Livestock farmers share their pre-lambing equipment checklist for indoor and outdoor systems

In the weeks ahead of lambing season, Nettex Area Business Manager and Scottish livestock farmer, Jane Moodie, advises sheep farmers and shepherds to set aside time to organise management schedules and take stock of lambing supplies.

Balancing full-time jobs with playing active day-to-day roles on their family livestock farms has been possible for, Miss Moodie and her colleague, Wales livestock farmer Gwyn James, by taking a checklist approach to pre-lambing preparation.

“There isn’t another time of the year that is as labour intensive as lambing season and, if you are unprepared, it can be difficult to keep up with everything,” Miss Moodie said.

Lambing 200 ewes outdoors in mid-April, Miss Moodie is hands-on at her family’s farm in the Scottish Highlands. In Wales near Aberystwyth, 42-year-old Mr James has helped his father lamb their primarily commercial flock of 300 ewes for all but one season since he was old enough to work.

In the weeks ahead of lambing season, farmer and Nettex Area Business Manager Jane Moodie advises sheep farmers and shepherds to set aside time to organise management schedules and take stock of lambing supplies.

To keep things simple, the pair recommend splitting out two checklists – one for management tasks such as scanning dates, nutrition planning and pen setup – and one for equipment supplies that are on hand and that need to be purchased.

“Taking the time to prepare and be organised is ultimately a small investment into a huge time saver for the future,” Mr James explained. “Especially when it comes to having the right supplies on hand. It is also going to ensure you have what you need when you need it and that you aren’t purchasing anything in excess because you don’t know what you already have.”

Below, Mr James and Miss Moodie share their insight into what equipment supplies are included on their pre-lambing equipment checklists for their indoor and outdoor systems:

Pre-lambing equipment checklist

Boxes of gloves – long and short

With a background as a veterinary nurse, Miss Moodie has seen the consequences when gloves aren’t worn and recommends wearing them to protect both the flock and the handler.

“Always wear gloves. I like wearing long ones that go up my arm when lambing because the mucous on lambs dries out and cracks skin, creating the perfect opportunity for bacteria to enter into your body and cause some serious issues,” she said. “It is also important to wear clean gloves between handling sheep, especially when doing something like trimming feet, to prevent the spread of infection from one sheep to another.”

Iodine – spray or dip

“I find the cup method for dipping navels to be very wasteful and messy and prefer to use 10% Iodine spray. This dries rapidly and if applied properly will give the same coverage as a dip,” Mr James said.

Colostrum

“Best practice is to always give a lamb colostrum from the ewe as its first feed as soon as possible post-lambing. However, there are always cases when that is not an option so it is necessary to have some powdered colostrum on hand,” Miss Moodie commented. “Weather conditions and other factors will also have a significant impact on colostrum production so if a bad weather front is going to be moving in, definitely increase the amount of powdered colostrum you have available.”

Both she and Mr James recommend Ultra Concentrate for its high-quality full fat colostrum sourced from British farms.

Marker spray

“We use this for management notes for things like pairing twins or if they’re a male and have been banded,” added Miss Moodie. “Marksman spray works extremely well for us.”

CCTV

“We installed night vision CCTV a few years ago in the lambing shed and can monitor and zoom in on individual ewes from a smartphone. This has saved us a significant amount of time on night checks,” Mr James revealed.

Serviced quad and trailer

“This is easily overlooked and causes some of the biggest issues if not working properly!” Miss Moodie noted.

Twin lamb drink for ewes

“If a ewe is carrying multiples, the lambs are sucking all of the energy out of her and can cause low blood glucose. A twin lamb drink like Twin Lamb Solution is high in energy to help get an exhausted ewe going again quickly,” said Miss Moodie.

Lamb Adoption Musk

“If a ewe is rejecting a lamb, or if you’re trying to adopt an orphan lamb onto a ewe, spray the lamb and around the ewe’s nose with Lamb Adoption Musk,” Miss Moodie recommended. “This has worked really well for us.”

Other checklist items include:

- Lamb puller

- Lambing aid

- Thermometer

- Lube

- Paper towels

- Feeding bottle

- Stomach tube

- Lamb feeder/bucket

- Electrolyte sachets

- Spare teats

- Syringes and needles

- Supply of medicines (antibiotics, anti-inflammatories)

- Castration rings and applicator

- Prolapse harness

- Needle and suture tape for prolapse

- Prolapse spoon

- Foot shears

- Foot rot spray

- Heat lamp

- Bedding disinfectant

- Splint and bandage materials

- Shepherds crook

- Headtorch and extra batteries

- Snacks

- Extra hat and coat

“While the supply needs of every farm is different, one thing we can all benefit from is being organised and having a plan in place,” Mr James concluded. “Use this checklist as a guide to develop one specifically for your farm for a smoother lambing season.”

To help sheep farmers with this lambing season, Nettex is giving away three £500 vouchers for Nettex products. Entries are open until 31 March 2023, and can be applied for here by taking a four-question survey.