26 January 1996

Lambing tips include fostering and penning

WITH so many flocks now housed at lambing it is vital there are plenty of lambing pens, says Dr Elwyn Rees, senior ADAS livestock consultant. He recommends one pen to eight ewes, which allows each ewe to spend 24 hours in the pen post lambing.

He also urges producers to set up a hospital area to take in sick sheep. It should be situated near an isolation pen which will cater for up to 50 ewes.

WHENEVER possible orphan lambs are fostered onto a ewe at Warborough Farm, Letcombe Regis, Oxon. Three hours post-lambing, before the ewe has bonded with her own lamb, Tony Good takes the foster ewes own lamb away to foster it onto another ewe which receives the same treatment. "No foster ewe ends up with her own lamb because we have found that when you give them another lamb, they show a preference for their own," explains Mr Good. Ewe and lamb stay in the fostering pen for 36 hours and then join the main flock. Only four ewes of the 300 put through Mr Goods fostering system failed to accept their lambs new this year.

IN a season when more producers are feeding a straw-based diet, they must still retain the cleanest and brightest bales to bed the lambing pen. "Never lay a newborn lamb on a musty, dusty bale of straw," warns Dr John Robinson from the Scottish Agricultural College. "Diseases such as joint ill are more likely to follow on from such practice."

A two-day lambing course will be held at Kirkley Hall College, Ponteland, Northumbria, on Feb 28 and 29. It covers all aspects of lambing, including new techniques on hygiene, nutrition and health of in-lamb ewes. There are also practical sessions including a lambing simulator, where lambs can be seen prior to birth. The course costs £90 with bed-and-breakfast accommodation an extra £15 per person a night. For more information contact Chris Jones at Kirkley Hall College (01661-860808).