Sheep flock health and welfare must-haves for less than £20

Simple things can be bought cheaply that can improve the hygiene and health of your flock.

And with market volatility and rules governing animal welfare and antibiotic stewardship placing more pressure on sheep farmers, now is the time to look to make those small improvements that add up.

This is according to the team at Black Sheep Farm Health, Rothbury, Northumberland, who have listed seven critical ‘must-haves’ sheep farmers can buy for £20 or less.

See also: What’s in Your Livestock Shed? visits a £250,000 lambing shed

Below, vet Kaz Strycharczyk outlines each one.

1. Digital rectal thermometer

Why? Healthy lambs should have a temperature of 39-39.5C, with mild hypothermia at 37-39C and severe hypothermia below 37C.

Lambs over 39C often have a fever and a meloxicam non-steroidal often helps.

Cost: £10-£15 each

2. Rolls of blue tissue

Why? Hygienic and cheap, blue roll (paper tissues) biodegrades and is excellent for drying hands and cleaning newborn lambs.

This is a far better option than cotton towels, which harbour germs. However, they must be stored in a clean, dry place.

Cost: £1.20-£1.50/roll when buying packs of six

3. Box of vinyl disposable gloves

Why? Your hands can undertake a wide variety of jobs each day.

Disposable gloves mean bacteria picked up from one job isn’t taken to the next one.

This is particularly important when lambing ewes or dealing with lameness such as CODD (contagious ovine digital dermatitis).

Similarly, cleanliness is important when dealing with animals with undeveloped immunity, such as pet lambs or young lambs.

Cost: £3-£6/100 pairs

4. A cool bag for vaccines

Why? If vaccines heat or cool outside of the 2-8C range, they will have reduced or no effectiveness, meaning their use is a waste of time and money.

Vaccines can easily be wasted if they become overheated or freeze.

Keeping a cool bag/box handy for when you pick up vaccines from the vets or take them take them out on to the farm is far better than putting them on the dashboard of your vehicle.

Cost: £5-£15

5. Syringes/needles

Why? Clean needles deliver products effectively, but blunt and dirty needles don’t.

Standard veterinary guidance is to change your needle every 10 jabs.

Selecting the right needle depends on the type of product you are using; the age of the animal and specific directions can be listed on the packaging.

Cost: Syringe and box of needles for £10

Length (in)





Lamb (and piglet) vaccines



Antibiotics for lambs (and piglets)



Lamb/sheep vaccines



Sheep vaccines



Sheep vaccines



Sheep vaccines

6. Bags of hydrated lime

Why? Hydrated lime lifts pH and soaks up moisture to help control bacteria.

Scatter a thin layer across the floor – often 300g/sq m is recommended. 

It can also be used around water troughs, feeding areas and gateways to help control lameness problems.

Cost: £7.50-£11/bag when buying bulk

7. Temperature monitor for medicine fridge

Why? Drugs and vaccines need to be kept in fridges that work.

A study on UK farms found that farm fridges varied from -12C to 24C between January and August.

Temperature data loggers show you the temperature at that given time and can be plugged in to a computer to show fluctuations through the year.

Cost: £17-£24

Products listed are available through reputable farm merchants or online. Prices listed above are only a rough guide and may be subject to change.