10+ man­age­ment tips to en­sure your lambs sur­vive

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Farm Diary -

RE­SEARCH HAS pro­duced a range of sur­vival rates which show that twins can sur­vive to the same ex­tent as sin­gles, but triplets have a def­i­nite dis­ad­van­tage. Sin­gles 78 - 93% Twins 78 - 94% Triplets 58 - 82%

Give ewes the best chance to produce a good lamb

At wean­ing, cull ewes with de­fec­tive ud­ders, set a mat­ing weight and en­sure good nu­tri­tional man­age­ment so they reach the best con­di­tion score. Ide­ally, you want ewes to be gain­ing weight as they cy­cle and are mated which as­sists in pla­centa size (it is set in early preg­nancy), which in turn has a pos­i­tive ef­fect on lamb birth­weight.

Pro­tect ewes by vac­ci­nat­ing for tox­o­plas­mo­sis, clostridia, campy­lobac­ter and sal­mo­nella – talk to your vet.

Set your lamb­ing date for when weather con­di­tions and pas­ture are best for your re­gion and cli­mate – this may be ear­lier or later than it is for your neigh­bours or some­where else in NZ.

Con­sider shear­ing ewes mid­preg­nancy (50-100 days af­ter the ram goes out) – op­ti­mal is Day 70 – which is known to im­prove lamb birth­weight and sur­vival.

Check and cor­rect trace el­e­ments and vi­ta­mins, es­pe­cially io­dine and se­le­nium.

Scan so you can re­move any ewes not preg­nant, and give pref­er­en­tial feed­ing to those car­ry­ing triplets and twins.

Feed twin and triplet-bear­ing ewes your best pas­ture in the four weeks be­fore lamb­ing to keep their con­di­tion score above 2.5 (3 is ideal) which can in­crease lamb sur­vival by up to 5%.

Don’t graze be­low 4cm as this lim­its in­take and is too low in nu­tri­tion, re­sult­ing in small, less vig­or­ous lambs and weaker moth­er­ing; the flow-on is these lambs only get (on av­er­age) 80% of nor­mal colostrum in­take and will go on to be lighter at wean­ing.

Give lambs the best chance

Triplets will have a body tem­per­a­ture around 10˚C colder than twins at birth so good shel­ter is cru­cial. This can be as sim­ple as hay bales in a cross for­ma­tion which can re­duce heat loss by up to 35%. Pad­docks that are slightly sloped (5-25°) are prefer­able: too steep and lambs can roll away, too flat and wa­ter pools, chill­ing lambs. Try not to dis­turb a mother and lamb/s for up to 24 hours af­ter birth, to im­prove bond­ing. The longer the mother stays on the birth site, the bet­ter the bond. If a mother does have triplets, it’s best to bot­tle-feed the small­est triplet – this can be sup­ple­men­tal (start with mother and lambs in a pen so the triplet gets used to be­ing han­dled) or you can re­move the triplet from its mother and ex­clu­sively bot­tle­feed it.

Lamb sur­vival rates can vary dra­mat­i­cally from farm to farm, and your man­age­ment plays a big part.

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