Make sure your lambs are off to a good start by using “clip, dip, and strip” in your lambing practices. This simple technique, suggested by former Penn State University Extension Educator Michael Fournier, will aid in keeping newborn lambs healthy.
Clip refers to trimming the umbilical cord. When a lamb is born, it will have an umbilical cord of varying length still attached to the belly, which can be an open highway for bacteria. If the umbilical cord is too long, the lamb could step on it, causing severe bleeding. Use sterile scissors to clip the cord to a length of 1-2 inches.
Once the cord is clipped, dip the navel area with iodine to prevent infection. Keep a wide-mouthed baby food jar filled with iodine near the lambing pen. Holding the lamb belly side down, press the jar up against the clipped cord so the entire navel area is covered.
Once the lamb is born, make sure he or she is actively seeking the ewe’s udder. Check the ewe’s udder to make sure a steady stream of milk is coming out because a wax plug can form in the end of the teat during pregnancy. Strip the teat with your hands to make sure the milk flowing freely. If the ewe’s udder feels hard or inflamed, she may have mastitis.
Keep clean towels handy to help dry lambs in the case of extreme cold weather and put up heat lamps for lambs to lay under. Keep bottles and milk replacer on hand if the ewe is unable to support her baby.
If lambs appear hunched or inactive, they may not be receiving proper nutrition and may need assistance.
Sources: Lambing Season: Don’t Forget “Clip, Dip, and Strip,” Michael Fournier, former Penn State Extension Educator; Improving Newborn Lamb Survival, Melanie Barkley, Penn State Extension Educator.
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