Lambing preparation key to success

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In advance of the lambing season, farmers are advised to take a proactive approach to maximise ewe performance and live lambs.

The majority of lamb losses occur during the first 48 hours of life, but this could be avoided by focusing on an effective colostrum management programme, says Nia Williams, Nettex technical manager.

“Newborn lambs have a limited supply of energy,” she says. “So by ensuring lambs have rapid access to a quality source of colostrum, whether from the ewe, or from an artificial source, is crucial for lamb survival and their ability to thrive.”

Research from the Scottish Rural University College (SRUC) has shown that over the course of the first 18 hours of life, lambs require at least 250ml per kg birth weight of colostrum to meet energy requirements, and prevent hypothermia. However, at least 300ml of this should be consumed within the first six hours of birth to provide disease immunity.

“Not all ewes are able to deliver a quality source of colostrum in sufficient quantities for their lambs. By planning ahead, farmers can make sure they have an effective colostrum substitute on-hand and ready for if and when it’s needed,” she says.

When choosing a colostrum supplement, Nia advises farmers to follow Nettex’s five-point guide. “Firstly, check if the colostrum contains a high digestible fat content.

“Secondly, look to see if the substitute contains egg proteins. The additional active proteins help support immune development and natural defences to common diseases.

“Does it include pre and probiotics, and is the colostrum easy to mix and consistent in colour, are the final questions that should be considered,” she says.

This advice can be used as a checklist when choosing a colostrum ahead of lambing to ensure the artificial source mimics the ewe’s own colostrum as far as possible.

Ultra Concentrate from Nettex, is a quality, easy-mix colostrum fortified with ewes milk, providing energy and support to weak and small lambs when needed. A 25g dose provides lambs with a protein rich, nutritional source required in the first hours of life.