Why is hygiene so important during lambing?
A good level of hygiene during lambing time is essential in reducing stock losses through infections such as watery mouth, joint ill and scours. These infections are caused by bacteria entering the lamb either through, ingestion, the navel and tailing or tagging wounds, many of which can be prevented by good hygiene.
As lambing progresses, the build-up of bacteria in the shed will certainly increase unless strict hygiene is being adopted. This will mean that during the second cycle, later born lambs will be born into a more challenging environment.
Hygiene is crucial for lambs to survive and thrive in sheds and at grass. If areas and equipment are not clean and disinfected, then there is a higher risk of infection. Maintaining a high level of hygiene throughout your lambing period will significantly reduce the need for antibiotics, and therefore help your flock to avoid becoming immune to medication.
How to reduce bacteria build up:
- Have a hand washing facility with hot water in the lambing shed for cleaning hands, overalls and equipment.
- Spray or dip the entire navel in iodine as soon after birth as possible and then again 6 hours later.
- Ensure the iodine containers are kept clean. While refilling spray bottles or dipping navels, bacteria, straw and faeces can enter into the solution. When the iodine gets low, empty it out, clean the bottle and refill it – rather than continually topping it up.
- When tagging and castrating, make sure you spray/dip all equipment in surgical spirit before each use.
- Store castration rings in a tub with antibacterial powder.
- Ensure belts/tubs/boxes used to hold tagging and tailing equipment are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- Store stomach tubes in sterilising solution e.g. Milton between use.
- Ideally clean and disinfect all individual pens between occupants. If this is not possible, then use an antibacterial powder that can be applied to the previous occupant’s straw along with plentiful clean dry straw on top
- Ensure pens are kept clean and dry with plenty of bedding at all times
- Site isolation pens in a dedicated area for any sick ewes or lambs
- Crutch ewes one month before lambing starts, this will avoid lambs ingesting dirt when searching for the teat
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