What’s normal and what can go wrong!
Mara L. Mulllinix D.V.M.
Clean, dry, low humidity, low ammonia, and eliminate draftiness!
Lambing jugs, or pens to alleviate mismatching of lambs/ewes
+/- Heat Lamps
Can be an open front shed, old bank barn, an area made of bales ,
or a state of the art building designed by the best Agricultural
engineers.. ..ultimately it is going to be up to the EWE and YOU!
Well nourished ewes but not overly!!!
Obesity of the ewe is a huge factor in difficult labor… second only
to a huge overfed unborn lamb! You’ve all see the big beautiful .. but
not well doing, Mr. DUH lamb.. They can’t walk or nurse for hours!
Mismatching of the sire size to the ewe can cause dystocia
especially if the head and shoulders are too big! Watch for coarse
shouldered rams and.. even the ewe’s sire size can come into play.
Selenium..this mineral may play a role in ringwomb (non-dialating cervix) and also
prolapsing of the vagina or uterus.. Kids with “rubbery” legs have been attributed to this
Calcium and magnesium are minerals which are extremely important for pregnant
ewes. Hypocalcemia and hypomagnesemia are not uncommon in periparturient ewes.
They present almost the same with neuromuscular signs, and probably contribute to
Ad libitum loose salt mineral mix during pregnancy is my preference
INADEQUATE WATER throughout pregnancy and during lactation is the most
important nutrient …as it is throughout life..
Chlamydia…late term abortions, and small weak lambs can be
relatively easy to eliminate from the flock by adding Aureomycin to
feed or using LA 200 or similar injectable tetracycline
Deworming ewes before the last trimester
Good nutritional program
Sort ewes according to BCS, lamb numbers determined by
ultrasound and experience
PREGNANCY TOXEMIA OR
Multiparous thin or obese ewes with twins +
Ewes with twins require 1.8-1.9 times more energy and protein
Inadequate nutrition due to diminished ruminal capacity because of uterine size,
+/_insufficient energy dense ration
Huge glucose requirement for late term lamb growth force ewes to use fat
stores leading to hepatic lipidosis and the decreased clearing of ketone bodies
Ewes with twins require 1.8-1.9 times more energy and protein
Feed refusal and neurological dysfunction leading to recumbency and even
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTI ON
I S WORTH A POUND OF
Sort ewes according to BCS, lamb numbers determined by ultrasound ( helps
with due date also) and experience of the ewe
Monitor feed intake of the ewes, diminished intake is also an early sign of
Ionophores such as monensin may also help prevent toxemia
Treatment of early cases include propylene glycol ( 60 ml. 2-3xdaily for 3 day)
with oral calcium and potassium, calf electrolytes work well. May include, induction
of labor, C-Section, IV dextrose, Calcium gluconate (50-100ml) SQ, and oral
potassium chloride, and even insulin
(WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS)
Treatment of early cases include propylene glycol ( 60 ml. 23xdaily for 3 day) with oral calcium and potassium, calf electrolytes
More advanced cases may require induction of labor, C-Section,
IV dextrose, Calcium gluconate (50-100ml) SQ, oral potassium
chloride, and even insulin
Probably genetic..after weaning cull the ewe and do not keep ewe
lambs as replacements
Obesity is a big factor
Foot rot makes ewes lie in sternal recumbency predisposes prolapsing
Multiple births triplets>>>>twins>>>>singlet
Treat with replacement of the prolapse, may need ABC and NSAID
then I prefer harnesses over Buhner stitching, d/t less pain, and ewe can
lamb without stitch removal through harness
EARLY STAGES OF
The ewe will separate herself
from the flock , she may
begin nesting by pawing and
Other ewes may try to “steal”
other newborn lambs, will try
to lick them, and nuzzle or
A mucus plug will
appear, and the ewe
may begin uterine
TRUE LABOR BEGINS
The ewe may or may not
lay down, but you will
begin to see more signs of
labor and the ewe may
vocalize more. And you
can actually she her push.
After 2-3 hours the amniotic sac
(water bag ) appears and after 30 to
60 minute the lamb’s nose and front
leg appears. After 20 to 30 minutes
the lamb should be born.
The ewe will lick and clean the
lambs which is a crucial time for
bonding. Soon after the lambs
will get up and begin searching to
After 2-3 hours the placenta will
pass. Do not allow the ewe to eat
it. Some do, but it may cause
illness and/or blockage.
2 DEFINITE SIGNS OF
No lamb visible after 45-60 minutes after
the amniotic sac appears
After the lamb has appeared for 30
minutes and no progress
If labor takes more
than 1 hour after the
amniotic sac appears
be prepared to assist
OH MY MYLAMBTA!
Before You Are Faced DYSTOCIA..(Big Word for Difficult labor)
Having a veterinarian to call and consult is important!
Being prepared is Paramount! Have a controlled environment…..
as nearly you possibly can!
Now it is up to YOU and the EWE
Restrain the ewe, either with halter ( do not tie too high or she may
lie down) or my preference, some one holding her head. Head chutes
or milking stauncions also work well.
Wash the back of the ewe with disinfecting soap or iodine scrub
Apply gloves or scrub your arm
Use liberal amount of lubricant
Insert your arm slowly
FIGURE OUT POSITION OF
How many lambs?
Forwards or backwards, position of hooves, nose or tail?
If only one foot, always try to retract lamb and get both front legs
Only the tail? Follow the body to the hind legs and pull lamb
backwards, steadily downward, need to clear airways.
Feet and no head? May need a snare to pull the head around
CALL FOR HELP
If the lamb head is too big to get through the pelvis.
If the cervix is not dialated at all
If the cervix is partial dialated and digital manipulation won’t
dialate it large enough for the lambs delivery.
Take every little gift like
this and never take it for
granted. After you have
had a few wrecks, you’ll
smile every time you seen
DO NOT OVER REACT
Once the lamb is born allow the Mom to do her job.
Check the udder to make sure the teats are open
Give any ewe you have assisted an injection of antibiotic
I do not recommend dipping cords, but that is up to you!
Check them in 2 hours to make sure the lamb has nursed and is up
and moving. Over caring can sometimes do more harm than good.