Lambing Preparations: Part 2

Various supplies used during lambing
A toolbox keeps supplies clean and organized.

In anticipation of our first yeaning (birthing season) I purchased some lambing supplies which arrived a few days ago.  With an “unimproved” or heritage breed such as the Navajo-Churro, lambing should be easy with no assistance required from the shepherds.  A good ewe will give birth on her own and clean and claim her lambs immediately, making sure that they find the udder and learn to nurse within their first hour of life.

That said, it is always a good idea to be prepared for unexpected birthing difficulties, weak lambs, or a first-time mom that rejects her lambs.  It is also a good time of year to stock up on vaccination supplies, which will be needed at shearing time (for the adult sheep), plus two weeks and again four weeks after the lambs are born.

Standard Lambing Supplies

  • Nutritional gel supplement
  • Digital scale & sling (for weighing newborn lambs)
  • Heat lamp, bulb, & thermostatic plug (for lambs born on cold days)
  • Notebook & pencil (for tracking birth weight, color, sire/dam, ear tag numbers, and potential names)
  • Ear tags & applicator (both farm ID tags and official USDA tags)
  • Ring expander & O Rings (for docking tails)
  • Sharp scissors (for cutting umbilical cords)
  • 7% Iodine solution (for sterilizing umbilical cords)
  • Latex gloves
  • Old bath towels
  • Molasses (nutritional supplement for ewes)
  • High-sided water bucket (tall to prevent lambs from climbing or falling in)

Emergency Lambing Supplies

  • Digital thermometer
  • Antiseptic lubricant (for easing stuck lambs)
  • Shoulder-length gloves (for obstetric work)
  • Powdered colostrum (instant first-milk for newborn lambs)
  • Large syringe & rubber stomach tube (for force-feeding weak or cold lambs)
  • Powdered sheep’s milk formula, bottle, & rubber teat (for rejected lambs)
  • Prolapse harness & retainer (for treating uterine prolapse)
  • Rectal ring (for treating anal prolapse)

Vaccination Supplies

  • Chalk (for marking lambs after vaccination)
  • Dewormer
  • CD/T vaccine serum
  • Rabies vaccine serum
  • Disposable syringes and needles

In addition to the supplies listed here, there is one more item that should be purchased or built. A lambing “jug” is a small, private pen that you put the ewe and newborn lambs into. This gives the mom a chance to bond with her lambs, and gives the lambs easy access to her udder in the critical hours after birth. For large farms, it may be easiest to purchase jug panels from a supplier, however for a small farm such as ours, this is expensive and unnecessary. My next post will show you how to build your own lambing jugs.

Published by Sarah Scully

Sarah is the owner/operator of Vermont Natural Sheepskins. She is an avid knitter and knitwear designer. She also enjoys cooking and gardening.

2 Comments

  • Pam

    February 5, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Wow, it looks like you have got all the medical supplies you will ever need. Are you able to predict the due dates of the sheep very accurately? Sounds exciting!

  • Sarah

    February 6, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Hopefully we won’t need any of the emergency supplies, but best to be prepared. Sheep gestate on a more predictable schedule than humans, 145 days give or take a couple of days. We put the ram in with the ewes on Oct 31, so we’re expecting our first lambs at the end of March.