A COLD, WET LAMB
1 easy way to save One simple injection can be a life-saver for cold or weak lambs.
Lambs born during a heavy cold snap can exhaust their energy stores just trying to keep warm. They quickly become too weak to feed off their mother and so they can starve and die.
But injecting a 20% mix of dextrose directly into the lamb’s abdomen can give them the energy boost they need to survive. This technique is known as an intra-peritoneal injection and it can be done by the farmer, on the spot, and gives good results.
When to inject lambs
Inject lambs with dextrose who are too cold or weak to feed off their mother. You must do this before you warm the lamb; if you warm the lamb before you ‘fuel’ it, you will hasten its death. Give the injection when the lamb is over four or five hours old – lambs younger than this should still have enough energy stores to recover when warmed. Note: it is not a disadvantage to inject new lambs, but warming them should be enough.
What to do Option 1
• Inject sterile 20% dextrose mix directly into the lamb’s abdomen. You can buy it ready-made to this concentration, in a 500ml flexibag with an attached drawoff tube. Alternatively, use 40% Dextrose diluted at a ratio of 1:1 with sterile water. • Connect a 5ml or 10ml vaccinating gun to the draw-off tube or extract the dextrose using a 60ml syringe. • Use a 10mm 18G vaccinating needle – it must not be longer than 12.5mm (1.25cm). • The dosage rate is 10ml of dextrose per kilo of lamb weight. The most susceptible are small newborn lambs that weigh less than 4kg, so you should inject 40ml. • Warm the dextrose if possible, although it still works if you don’t. • Hold the lamb between your legs or lie it on the ground, then spray the area to be injected with iodine. • Push the needle in, just in front of the navel (ie, on the head side) pushing in at a slight angle towards the chest. You may
feel a popping sensation as the needle pierces the abdomen. • Inject the solution – if you see a swelling occurring under the skin, the needle is not in far enough. The injection directly into the abdomen with 20% dextrose gives the best results as it works more quickly, and is faster to do. However another option to get energy into the lamb is to inject dextrose saline under the skin, known as a subcutaneous injection. • Prepare a vaccinating needle or syringe with dextrose saline (note, this is not the same as 20% dextrose) • Inject 30ml/kg of lamb weight subcutaneously around the ribs, on both sides of the lamb, and rub the site. After giving the lamb dextrose and warming it up, it should become more active and ready to feed. Place back with the ewe if she is happy to take it. However keep an eye on it – it may become an orphan lamb. A lamb cover can also help improve the lamb’s chances of survival.