10 July 1998

Spread the stress

REDUCE risk of disease occurring in lambs at weaning by taking the New Zealand approach and spreading out stressful tasks.

John Vipond, who travelled to the country a Stapledon Fellowship says that Kiwi producers recognise several components of stress in lambs at weaning – separation, nutrition, handling, and fear of a new environment.

"Overall stress can be reduced by spreading out the components of weaning. This avoids pushing lambs over the edge which can often result in a loss of natural immunity and subsequent disease concerns."

Where possible, he advises worming lambs two weeks prior to weaning to avoid handling and dosing stress.

"At weaning, simply draft them off, and move them straight back into their paddock. When weaned back to the pasture they came off, lambs do much better as they know where the water supplies are and are less afraid."

A week after weaning, lambs can be dosed for worms if necessary and moved onto clean pasture, says Dr Vipond.

&#8226 More on NZ sheep management, p44.