Reduction in antibiotic use at lambing.

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Growing concerns surrounding antibiotic resistance mean all sectors of livestock farming must take responsibility for reducing the amount of antibiotics they use.  This is equally important in sheep farming, and lambing time provides good opportunities for reviewing if and when these drugs are used. Using less antibiotics is not only important for future human and animal health; it makes good business sense this season by lowering drug and vet bills.

Although it’s not possible to eliminate diseases like watery mouth or joint ill, good management practices at lambing time should aim to reduce cases to a minimum. If a flock is relying on prophylactic antibiotic use for control, then an urgent review and action plan is needed to identify risks and establish key actions to remedy the situation. Involvement of your vet is important, especially in problem flocks, to aid development of an effective strategy.

Hygiene is a main area to review, especially when lambing indoors. The bacterial load can easily build up after repeated lambing as damp straw is an ideal breeding ground for pathogens. Regular bedding changes, and the use of a good disinfectant are simple but effective essentials; a bale of straw is cheaper than a bottle of antibiotics.

Nettex Protector is a powerful broad-spectrum disinfectant for livestock housing, equipment and general farm use. Importantly, it is effective in the presence of high organic soiling that can occur in the lambing shed. In addition, Nettex Bactocyde is a convenient ready-to-use trigger-spray disinfectant, handy to keep around for quickly dealing with troublesome areas

If you have to help a ewe to lamb, then good hygiene is a priority. Clean cloves and regular washing of hands and equipment is essential and should help reduce the need for antibiotic cover for the ewe.

Giving each lamb the best start in the crucial first hours of life sets it up for fighting any bacterial infections it encounters, avoiding the need for antibiotics. Dipping or spraying the naval with iodine as soon as possible is a quick and simple way of reducing the chance for bacteria to enter the lamb, a key cause of joint ill.

A good feed of colostrum is probably the most important step in giving the lamb a healthy start. Maternal colostrum provides antibodies that pass on maternal immunity, immedicably helping the lamb fight any infections. It also provides fats and protein that deliver energy at this critical time.This helps the lamb rise, feed and helps avoid hypothermia and therefore be better able to combat bacteria itself.

Time is of the essence and it’s important that the lamb receives a suitable amount of good quality colostrum as a soon as possible after birth. After 12 hours the ability of the lamb to absorb maternal antibodies drops significantly so monitoring and ensuring the lamb sucks is vital. If there is doubt, then stomach tubing colostrum can be lifesaving.

Making an effective plan and following these steps can help significantly reduce the amount of antibiotics used and overall costs. Nettex has a full range of products for use at lambing time. Disinfectants, Iodines, Colostrums & nutritional supplements together with high quality British made equipment to help you achieve a healthy and profitable lambing time.

If you have any questions, need advise or product information please do let us know