Lambing and Calving (and the common issue of mastitis)

Last week I spent three busy days helping out a farmer at lambing time and gaining work experience. On the first day I woke up early to help with the lambing as most ewes lamb through the night and early morning. I helped three ewes give birth; triplets, twins and a single. We also decided to give one of the triplet lambs to the single mother so that she had a double to bring up as the triplets would not receive enough milk each from their mother to make them full enough to survive outside. After the ewes had given birth, the lambs were given two squirts of spectam which is an orally administered antibiotic to prevent the lambs from getting diseases when they are at their most vulnerable. We also dipped the lamb’s navels in Iodine which drys the navel and has an antiseptic effect. Farmers do this as a wet navel provides a direct route for bacteria to travel into the lamb. The navel is dipped in iodine very quickly after birth and then later on in the day for maximum protection.

The rest of the day consisted of more lambing, moving ewes with their three year old lambs to different fields, bottle feeding the pet lambs, feeding the ewes, banding the lambs and marking the ewes and lambs with livestock spray

Here are some photos of the pet ewes that were taken off their mothers for a variety of reasons such as being the weakest triplet, their mother having mastitis or other complications with the lambs. The pet ewes had to be bottle fed and kept warm by an infrared heat lamp.

A common issue with ewes and cattle is mastitis. Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland and can be caused by stress, injury or bacteria such as E.Coli.One of the ewes at the farm that showed signs of mastitis had to be separated from the herd and treated with antibiotics. Her lambs had to be weaned off of her and bottle fed in the pet area.

Also on my first day I accompanied the farmer to the vets with a lamb with a very enlarged navel. The vet was not sure if its guts were coming out  or whether the lamb just had a very enlarged navel. The lamb went in to shock shortly after the lump was cut off and stitched up and so was given steroids and pain relief to help it. We were not sure if the lamb was going to make the journey home but thankfully it managed and is now in the pet area.

The next two days were equally as busy as the first and included different experiences such as seeing a calve being born using a ratchet as a calving aid, milking and on the last day I even saw a Cesarean on a cow as her calve was coming out backwards.

Lambing is an essential part of work experience and having spend a day last year at a small farm and three days this year at a larger scale farm I am gaining different experiences in lambing season. It is a very stressful but rewarding time of year and I am going back to the same farm to help out next year. Thank you for reading and feel free to post any of your own experiences/questions regarding lambing or calving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *