Preventing lamb deaths with good management
Lambs are very vulnerable when they’re newborn, but their survival can be increased with good management and planning. Here we look at preventing lamb deaths with good management and proper planning.
One of the most vital aspects to manage is proper nutrition of the pregnant ewe, as the biggest causes of lamb deaths are
- Exposure to cold
Exposure to cold, starvation and predation can account for up to 86% of lamb deaths, but these can luckily be prevented through providing proper nutrition and shelter to the ewes.
It is good practice to provide lambing pens so that the ewes can take shelter against the cold. A good management practice is shearing the ewes 4 – 6 weeks before they lamb. This causes the ewe to feel the cold more acutely and seek shelter, allowing her to keep her lambs safe against the cold as well.
Providing lambing pens will generally keep lamb deaths under 5%, which is especially noticeable in ewes that have had multiple lambs, as the average mortality percentage in twin lambs is 2.5 times higher than that of single lambs.
Predation can be managed through continuous and vigorous supervision, selection of paddocks away from areas known to host predators, or using guard animals like Border Collies to deter predators.
Starvation can be prevented through proper provision of colostrum to the lamb in the first 24 hours after it has been born. The colostrum contains antibodies from the mother and provides the lamb with a passive immunity. Colostrum is produced in the ewe during late-gestation, at about 4 – 6 weeks before lambing, and proper supplementation during this time is vital. Correct nutrition will stimulate udder development and aid in sufficient colostrum production.
Watch the video below for more information on managing lamb deaths.
If you would like to learn more about the correct supplementation, contact your nearest Molatek Technical Advisor.