Lambing season can be a stressful time for shepherds and not a year goes by that we don't learn something new or have a new problem that needs to be solved. It's important to be prepared for lambing season (and late gestation) to prevent overnight shipping fees and hurried trips to Tractor Supply and Runnings- which we just did yesterday.
Here is a list of some of my lambing essentials and what they are used for. Please don't take this as veterinary advice, but rather tips from a fellow shepherd and things I have learned over 15 years of lambing. Everyone has their own lambing tips, tricks, supplies and ways of doing things.
Let me know if there's something else that should be included in my list! Is there something you have found useful that I should also have on hand?
1. Scale & sling- Every lamb is weighed immediately following birth
2. Iodine & surgical scissors- For removing the umbilical cord after birth
3. BoSe & Vitamin E- For lambs with potential white muscle, or perking up weak lambs
4. Gloves (both regular latex & breeding gloves)- For pulling lambs and messy situations
5. Clean towels- For assisting ewes with drying off lambs in cold weather. We like to put in the drier for a few minutes to warm up
6. Colostrum & milk replacer- When the ewe may not be able to provide
7. Pritchard teats & 16 oz soda bottle- For feeding milk if needed
8. Stomach tube- Truthfully I have almost never tubed a lamb in my 15 years of lambing, but others would tell you this needs to be on your list
9. Heat lamps- Helpful on very cold February nights! I really like the new ones from Premier 1
11. O-rings/ring expander- For docking tails and castration
1. Nutri-Drench- I give this to any ewe when off feed or seaming weak
2. Vitamin B12- For so many things!
3. Penicillin- For preventing and treating infections
4. Syringes and Needles- I keep mostly 18g x 1" needles on hand and have syringes from 3cc to 20 cc.
5. Drench gun- For giving meds, water, nutri-drench, ANYTHING
6. CalNate/Dextrose/Propylene glycol- For treating ketosis
7. Prolapse retainer and harness- Because at some point a ewe will likely prolapse
8. Uncoated aspirin- For use as a mild painkiller
9. A box or tote for carrying supplies to the barn
And last but not least, the books I LIVE by during lambing season:
"Managing Your Ewe & Her Newborn Lambs" and "Lamb Problems: Detecting, Diagnosing, Treating" by Laura Lawson
I cannot tell you how many ewes and lambs we have saved using these books! They are the most comprehensive and practical veterinary books for sheep that I have found. Her approach sometimes seems like "throw the kitchen sink at them and see what happens", but we have had good luck.
There are many other things I have on hand that I've accumulated throughout the years, but this is a good list for someone just starting out and many things I did not have on hand my first few years of lambing. When in doubt- call your vet and have them provide you with the supplies you need. Often, specific items cannot be found at your local Tractor Supply and need to be purchased online at Premier 1 or Valley Vet. I have found that asking questions of other shepherds has been one of the best methods of learning.
Emmaline Long, main owner of Orchard View Farm, has a passion for Lincoln sheep and loves educating others about her breed and farm, She currently serves as the Vice President of the National Lincoln Breeders Association.
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