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Posted: 12/16/2022

Everything You Need for Lambing-Kidding Season

With the turn of the calendar into January, that means one thing for our lamb and goat operations: the babies will be here before you know it. That means it’s time to stock up and ready your facility and workforce for safe and healthy lamb and kid arrivals. The health of your herd – and your operation – depend on thorough preparation, knowledge and tools. That’s exactly why we created a Lambing & Kidding Center, and why we’re preparing you now. Check out these tips and resources to make lambing and kidding your successful season yet.

Sheep giving birth to a lamb

Signs of Pre-Lambing/Kidding

There are several signs to look for regarding ewe/doe behavior that will signal the start of the process. First, they may separate from the group and first-time ewes/does may appear more restless than older ones. It’s possible they avoid eating a few hours prior as well and make a nest-like structure on the ground. Both ewes and does discharge mucus from the vulva, but you’ll know contractions are active when they arch their back and lay down over and over. Expect to see the water bag delivered first, but know it can break and appear as only fluid.

Avoid Premature Deaths of your Lambs and Kids

Did you know? Almost half of lamb losses happen in the first 48 hours after birth, and another 11% pass away prematurely between 2 and 14 days after birth. The same problem exists for kids, too. Those stats are staggering, but there are ways to avoid contributing to them.

  • Prepare for birth: Shear sheep around the rump and back legs for cleaner delivery and to avoid birthing fluid saturating the wool. Clip does around the udder for cleaner milking and delivery as well.
  • Create a hygienic environment for delivery: Disinfect the pen before the ewes arrive, use clean and dry bedding (free of manure). The clean pen also encourages necessary bonding time between the mother and her child.
  • Stop spreading disease: Clean spaces eliminate the transfer of illness, and iodine on the lamb’s navel keeps bad bacteria out as well.
  • Keep them warm and dry: Hypothermia is a huge problem for newborns. If below 37 degrees C, warm them before feeding. But feed them in the first few hours to build metabolism and maintain their body temperature.
  • Avoid starvation: Make sure they get enough food, especially colostrum, and watch for rejection from the ewe or doe. If rejected or underfed, they risk early mortality.

When Kids Need Support

Usually kidding takes about an hour and moves fast when fetal parts first appear. In the event that it doesn’t, call your vet. Remember, a strong veterinarian relationship is important for every farm as you can reach out for help if delivery doesn’t progress as planned.

Like lambs, kids face a critical few first days after birth. Most does will care for their kids without needing much intervention, however, there are cases when you’ll need to step in to prevent decline and even death:

  • When the doe delivers three or more kids at once
  • A doe is indifferent to the newborn kid or doesn’t have enough colostrum
  • The bedding and/or weather is cold and/or wet
  • Kids can’t stand on their own or suckle

Supply Checklists for a Successful Season

Stocking season happens before any lambing and kidding can. Now’s the time to stock up to ensure your supplies are ready when the ewes and does are. To help prepare for this busy and exciting time, PBS Animal Health created tailored supply checklists that cover all the bases. Download and print the kidding checklist and/or lambing checklist at your convenience to shop by category. You’ll find colostrum replacers, disinfectants, heated products, navel dips, OB supplies and so much more in an organized, easy-to-use fashion.

Keep Those Kids (and Lambs) Warm!

We cannot underscore this point enough: warmth is critically important in the health of newborn lambs and kids. In addition to ensuring warm and draft-free birth areas, double check the supplies you have and order extra to make sure you have exactly what you need before you need it. By the time the animals show signs of illness, it’s often too late to save them, so stock up on heat lamps, bulbs and blankets ahead of time.

Here are a few customer favorites to consider stocking this season:

  • Prima Heat Lamp: This 15” tall lamp comes with a 16’ cord and can be used on any animal that is sick or cold. The plastic shield keeps animals from damaging the bulb.
  • Lamb and Kid Warmer: Raise the temperature of your hypothermic lambs and kids with this microwaveable blanket. It’s machine washable and reusable throughout the season.

PBS Animal Health Lambing & Kidding Center

No matter where you are in your lambing and kidding process, we’ve set you up for success with all the essential supplies, helpful checklists and other insights you could need all in one place. Visit our Lambing & Kidding Center for quick links to shop breeding supplies, identification tags, nursing and feeding supplies, vaccines and much more.

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