Farm Facts and Furrows

Lamb care after delivery

The average gestation period for a ewe is 147 days, but some will always be early. The lamb should start breathing at birth. It may need help; check that there is no placenta covering the nostrils or mouth. A gentle rub over the chest with a towel or straw whisk, tickling the inside of the nostrils with a piece of straw or blowing into the nostrils (do not allow your lips to come in contact with the wet lamb while doing this) will often stimulate breathing. At this time the lamb’s navel should be disinfected to prevent infection. The ewe usually starts to lick the lamb; this is a natural process and should be allowed to continue. A healthy lamb struggles to its feet soon after birth and starts to nurse its dam. Lambs, weak from a difficult delivery, should be helped to nurse or given up to 250 ml of colostrum by stomach tube. The first nursing is critical as the colostrum contains antibodies to give the lamb immediate protection against infectious agents common to the flock. All lambs should nurse or be tube fed colostrum within 6 to 8 hours of birth. In the first 24 hours of life, each lamb should receive about one litre of colostrum. After 36 hours the lamb is unable to absorb any more antibodies from the colostrum. After any assisted delivery the ewe may require an antibiotic injection. Check with your veterinarian for a recommended protocol. Check with your veterinarian for the recommended protocol for the following practices. Some things that were considered routine are now done on an as needed basis. Code of practice for the Care and Handling of Sheep is used as a guideline.

Injections: In Ontario, newborn lambs can be born selenium deficient. As a routine, they should be injected with the appropriate dose of a Vitamin E/selenium preparation. Always inject into the neck area and not into the muscles of the hindquarters. Navel treatment: The navel of the newborn lamb needs to be disinfected as soon after birth as possible. The untreated navel is an excellent route for infectious agents to enter the lamb causing internal abscessing or joint ill. An iodine solution is the most common disinfectant used. Castration: Market lambs may need to be castrated depending on age to market.

Biosecurity for your birds

It is hard to believe that spring is coming and soon it will be time for chick, poult or pullet orders for the coming growing season. With that in mind it is also time to start thinking about biosecurity for your birds. It does not matter if you have 300 birds or six birds, your birds are an investment…in money, time and emotion and you want to do everything you can to keep them safe and healthy. What is biosecurity? It is actions that you can take to prevent and detect disease in your poultry and keep them healthy. What can you do to keep your birds safe? 1. Prevent contact with wild birds and other animals; not only wild birds, but other vermin such as mice, rats, skunks and raccoons. This also applies to your dogs and cats, etc. With organic production this means having proper netting or bird wire up to prevent wild birds from feeding in your feeders and waterers. This included keeping bird species separate. Do not have turkeys, pheasants, peacocks or other game birds in pens or pasture areas that chicken have been on. Chickens can harbour histomoniasis (blackhead) which is a protozoa parasite that can exist for long periods of time in the soil.

  1. Keep your premises clean: you can harbour pathogens and parasites in soil, litter and other organic matter, thoroughly clean pens, feeders, waterers and other equipment including the shovels you clean with. This includes keeping yourself clean too! Using a good surfactant (soap) will help remove the organic matter on whatever you are cleaning and then followed by an approved disinfectant. Refer to your certification body to ensure you use an approved disinfectant. Next week, part 2.