The Big Lambing Thread Watch

Aprilfools
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Hi Everyone (and specifically VetMed students with Lambing experience )

Soo I've been lucky enough to get a 2 week placement from Feb 17th helping with lambing (indoors) on a farm - hurray ! Plus I'm spending all of April working on a mixed farm with dairy cows, pigs, chickens sheep (and more lambing).

I don't have any experience of lambing yet (which the farmer is aware of/doesn't mind). So I was wondering if anyone who'se been there, done that and brought the T shirt could give me some advice/hints/tips?

Thankee muchly in advance

xx
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Leigh303
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(Original post by Aprilfools)
Hi Everyone (and specifically VetMed students with Lambing experience )

Soo I've been lucky enough to get a 2 week placement from Feb 17th helping with lambing (indoors) on a farm - hurray ! Plus I'm spending all of April working on a mixed farm with dairy cows, pigs, chickens sheep (and more lambing).

I don't have any experience of lambing yet (which the farmer is aware of/doesn't mind). So I was wondering if anyone who'se been there, done that and brought the T shirt could give me some advice/hints/tips?

Thankee muchly in advance

xx
I've done a few weeks lambing over the past 3 years or so (2013 applicant) so I'll give you a bit of info

Clothing: wear overalls at the very least. Its a good idea to wear waterproof trousers (and maybe a light coat, depends how cold you get!) You WILL get covered in afterbirth, blood, probably iodine, and anything else you can think of. :P

Take some snacks (in wrappers for hygiene...) with you if you're working long days and it's cold, trust me! Depending on how hospitable your farmers are, mine were lovely and brought lots of tea and food etc, maybe take a thermos, although don't expect lots of breaks!

Like anything else sheep can be a bit unpredictable and you might find you get days where 1 ewe lambs, and days where they all lamb at the same time! Use quiet times to quiz the farmer on anything sheepy you can think of and prepare for the busy times so you know you're ready- Familiarise yourself with where all the kit is -injections, iodine if you need it, straw, water, record books, suction machine things etc.

The general procedure will be that a ewe looks restless, tries to make a nest, "stargazes" at the sky etc. often farmers leave her to get on with it, if she takes too long and produces nothing then they might wrestle her down and check what's going on. This is the cool bit, when you might get to change the position of an awkward leg, or similar. ALWAYS check for more lambs after each one - there are normally twins, but triplets often come from the ewes you least expect! the farmer will guide you through everything on how to check the lamb is in the right position etc.
Once the lambs are born, on the farm I was at we dipped the umbilical cords in iodine (to prevent infection) and gave them all a jab in the hindquarters, then put each ewe in her own pen with them and recorded the birth (breed, number of lambs, etc). you need to check the lambs are breathing ok (if not we used little machines to suck out fluid!) and that the ewe is producing milk - we sometimes had to stomach tube lambs with colostrum from jars we filled from ewes who produced lots.
After a few days we would spray a number on each sheep to match lambs with ewes, and dock tails/castrate males using rubber bands!

** procedures will vary between farms!!!

Other duties might include putting sheep out to pasture or checking them, caring for the ewes, bottle feeding orphan lambs and adoptions - eg if a ewe has triplets, and another has a single/1 of the twins dies, we take a triplet and smear it in the afterbirth produced by the single ewe (or cover it in the skin of a dead twin...) and try to adopt it onto the "single" ewe so you have 2 sets of 2. This means the lambs all get the best chance of getting max milk

Have a quick look at sheep husbandry and current schmallenberg issues before you go to give you a rough idea, the farmers weekly website is good.

Enjoy - its hard work but I LOVED it!
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kookabura
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Leigh has pretty much said everything I think!

Personally, clothing wise, I hate wearing overalls/boiler suits (I feel really restricted movement wise in them!) So I generally wear jeans/old trousers and jumper etc - but I always wear waterproof trousers when lambing. There just seems to be no way to avoid kneeling in fluid/blood when lambing! I sometimes wear a waterproof top/parlour top as well, but not always. One thing to make sure (esp when it is cold and you are wearing lots of layers) is to make sure you can roll your sleeves up past your elbow easily. It can get annoying when you have caught a ewe and are going to assist her to then have to start stripping loads of layers off to roll your sleeves up!

Farmers tend to be really good at letting students do a lot at lambing time, so you will probably get a lot of hands on experience, but don't be afraid to ask if you are not sure!

There are a couple of links here which might be useful. If you have some vague idea of what to watch for with lambing, the presentations that a ewe can end up with her lamb in, and some of the complications of lambing that would be a really good start! It means you will probably pick stuff up a bit quicker when you are there.

http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/sheep/ansc...bing/lamb.html
http://www.sheepscreek.com/rural/lambing.html
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snailsareslimy
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Clothes: old. I just wear jeans and an old coat.

When lambing: don't be one of those idiots who doesn't wear a glove when lambing. A glove and gel, please. It'll make it easier and reduce any cross infections (and also be nicer for you if the lamb is dead!)

Lambing: try feel for the 2 front feet and use those to pull out the lamb. If its a breech birth/you feel lots of feet, let the farmer take over until you're better with lambing regular births, then give it a go yourself

As mentioned above, check the lamb is breathing, pull away any birth from the face and let the ewe lick the lamb. Check if there are any more lambs, and wait if necessary. Repeat.
About half an hour later we iodine the unbillical cord and give the lambs something called (I'll pop this in once I go out and check the name), and open the ewes teats.

We also then move the lambs into a nicely bedded pen with a water bucket. Remember to remove the afterbirth when it eventually comes out. Make sure the lambs have had a fees of colostrum (if not, either direct the lambs toward the teats or make up a feed and tube or bottle feed the lamb).

If everything goes well, we let the ewe stay in for a few days then pop them outside (a jab of long lasting allamycin, numbering them and the marking the farmer uses; ours is a blue head and line in the middle of the back). We also pop rings on the lambs' tails.
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Aprilfools
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Thank you so much guys for the excellent and abundant advice

I will definately check those links out Kookabura - I did already find one which I found quite useful to give a general idea of what to expect:

http://www.sheep101.info/201/lambingprocess.html

I am now online shopping for a couple of pairs of waterproof trousers as suggested (I've grown out of my old ones :-/ ) If anyone's bored enough to give me an opinion, here's the ones I think I'm gonna get:

http://www.mountainwarehouse.com/wom...244.aspx#Deliv

I've worn boiler suits before (well, similar anyway) for caving, and do find them a bit weird - so I think I will stick to waterproof trousers, boots and a light waterproof jacket with a fleece jumper underneath.

As for snacks I'm thinking individually wrapped flapjacks - good for energy and easy to munch down fast if time is short

xxxxx
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Aprilfools
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P.S. 1) how long are the days? (I know the answer is "long", but what's a ballpark figure from Xam to Xpm?)

and 2) what about lambing during the night? Is it usual for someone to be supervising the ewes overnight during lambing?

xxxx
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snailsareslimy
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(Original post by Aprilfools)
P.S. 1) how long are the days? (I know the answer is "long", but what's a ballpark figure from Xam to Xpm?)

and 2) what about lambing during the night? Is it usual for someone to be supervising the ewes overnight during lambing?

xxxx
1. On our farm 6am - 2am. We have calving heifers at the same time and its quite busy. I doubt yours will be that long.
2. Usually we check them late (2am), then up at 4, then 6. Obviously if there are ewes looking like they might lamb, more regularly. I also tend to be able to hear any bleating from my room so I've used that in the past to be able to roughly work out if any lambing is going on but we always check.
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Leigh303
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(Original post by Aprilfools)
Thank you so much guys for the excellent and abundant advice

I will definately check those links out Kookabura - I did already find one which I found quite useful to give a general idea of what to expect:

http://www.sheep101.info/201/lambingprocess.html

I am now online shopping for a couple of pairs of waterproof trousers as suggested (I've grown out of my old ones :-/ ) If anyone's bored enough to give me an opinion, here's the ones I think I'm gonna get:

http://www.mountainwarehouse.com/wom...244.aspx#Deliv

I've worn boiler suits before (well, similar anyway) for caving, and do find them a bit weird - so I think I will stick to waterproof trousers, boots and a light waterproof jacket with a fleece jumper underneath.

As for snacks I'm thinking individually wrapped flapjacks - good for energy and easy to munch down fast if time is short

xxxxx
Sounds like you've got clothing and food sorted!

Hours wise, I worked roughly 8am - 8pm day shifts, and 11pm/12am - 6am night shifts, inbetween those times everyone mucked in, it was a large farming family!
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kookabura
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Hours wise - totally depends on the farm! I've worked different hours at different farms, anything from a nice and sociable 8-17:00, to a 7:00 until whenever, to a farm where me and one other person covered everything so we both worked 6:00 til 20:00ish and did alternate nights each, that place was knackering!!

Over night again, it depends! Some farmers do a late night check (maybe midnight ish) and then risk leaving it until morning. Others do night checks at certain times, others have someone who is up all night. I doubt you would be expected to do both though!

Make sure you check with the farmer what their routine is for dealing with ewes and lambs post lambing. Everywhere does it different, some of the things people have mentioned on here some of the farmers I have worked for would not have liked me doing, and there are other things I have done. So the safest thing is to make sure you check with them and do it how they want (....that way if there are any problems/deaths etc you have done what they have told you!) The same with interfering/assisting with lambings. Some farmers tend to jump in and help really early on, others prefer to leave it until they are sure there is a problem, or if the ewe has made no progress in a couple of hours! It really depends...again, just go with what they do on that farm! Until you have enough experience to begin to make your own judgment calls on it, it is best to just copy the farmer.

Waterproof trousers wise - I'm sure they would be fine. Personally I have some flexothane ones (a workwear/farm brand). They aren't quite as breathable as walking trouser type ones are. But I find them harder wearing. I used to get through waterproofs relatively quicker (ripping them on fences/hurdles, just ending up not waterproof anymore etc), whereas I have had these for a few years now and they seem to still be good. Are also really easy to wash down - which becomes more important at vet school when you go on farms visits with vets and have to scrub down after every farm visit. http://www.graniteworkwear.com/p-Fle..._6360-128.aspx
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skatealexia
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Pinned as useful
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Aprilfools
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Just ordered me some Flexothane Essentials (the ones in Kookabura's link)

due to arrive by thursday, let's hope they're a good fit always hard to tell when buying online, even with the size guide

xx
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Naivasha
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Best advice, I would give after several lambing seasons is not to wear wellies but sturdy boot with ankle support, I have lost track of the number of times I have gone over on my ankles catching sheep to spend the next couple of weeks hobbling round the shed dosed up on pain med (stock up in advance). Also do back stretches whenever possible, it may sound a bit weird but we all had back ache by the end of the first week. Get lots of sudocrem, amniotic fluid and iodine really dries the skin out and then it starts to hurt when you put your hand in a ewe, even the farmer and night lamber started using it!

Its very hard work but I love it (best work ex yet) and having started as work ex several years ago now work for the same shepherd running his indoor lambing flock during lambing season. In terms of hours, I worked 6am till about 7-9pm depending on how busy it was, but the vet students often only worked 7.30ish till 5 or 6.
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Angry cucumber
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I've got no lambing experience.... but 2200 ewes await for me in less than a month

In at the deep end, much
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clartie
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We are looking for enthusiastic students for this years lambing, 1500 ewes inside from 27/3/2013 until 30/4/2013 the farm is located at Burton on the Wirral Cheshire. Some experience preferable but not essential. Please contact Alex Crossley
Tel 01513531633 (evenings best)
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Georgiaawisbey
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(Original post by clartie)
We are looking for enthusiastic students for this years lambing, 1500 ewes inside from 27/3/2013 until 30/4/2013 the farm is located at Burton on the Wirral Cheshire. Some experience preferable but not essential. Please contact Alex Crossley
Tel 01513531633 (evenings best)
at what times would this be please? very interested
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clartie
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Normally students do 1week of days 8am-6pm and then a week of nights having had some experience of how the set up works.
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Georgiaawisbey
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I have no experience but im looking to get some lambing experience would i still be able to do this?
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clartie
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(Original post by Georgiaawisbey)
I have no experience but im looking to get some lambing experience would i still be able to do this?
That would be fine,you will be part of a team so just give me a ring and we can confirm details. 01513531633
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Cetacea
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If you're going out lambing in the next few weeks or so, I'd recommend having a look at this document from DEFRA about how to improve lamb survival. It's recommended reading for us at vet school and I think it'll be useful for my lambing in April.
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Nessie162
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(Original post by clartie)
We are looking for enthusiastic students for this years lambing, 1500 ewes inside from 27/3/2013 until 30/4/2013 the farm is located at Burton on the Wirral Cheshire. Some experience preferable but not essential. Please contact Alex Crossley
Tel 01513531633 (evenings best)
Hello, I was wondering if accommodation could be provided?
If so I would be interested to come and help for a week in April.
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