Now is the time to be thinking about what you need to put in place for a successful 2022 lambing season, according to Dr. Jessica Cooke from Volac.

“Good preparation for the lambing season will help you to maximise the number of healthy newborn lambs to finish in 2022 and the priority at this time of year for most flocks is to get pregnant-ewe nutrition right,” Dr. Cooke said.

“Ewes must be in the best condition possible for the last six weeks of pregnancy when 70% of foetal growth takes place. Get it wrong and you may have to cope with poor lamb survival rates, low birth weights and inferior quality ewe colostrum.”

Dr. Cooke suggests grouping and feeding ewes according to scanning results and their condition score.

“Getting the mineral balance right is important too, so ask your nutritionist for advice. It’s also worth asking your vet to blood sample ewes 4-6 weeks pre-lambing – just to make sure their diet is delivering the required energy and protein status.”

She believes that a chat with your vet will also remind you of the essential disease management interventions pre and post-lambing season.

“For example, don’t forget to boost your ewes’ clostridial disease and pasteurellosis cover 4-6 weeks pre-lambing; make sure any lame sheep are separated and treated well before housing; and check your protocols for recording any lamb losses (when and how many) and dealing with any abortion problems or joint ill,” she said.

Any sheep housing should also be well prepared, which involves thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the accommodation before the ewes come inside.

“Good lighting is important too because it makes it so much easier to check stock without disturbing them too much,” Dr. Cooke added.

“Avoid overcrowding otherwise stress and disease issues can spiral out of control; a typical 70kg ewe needs 1.2m2 to 1.4m2 of floor space and 45cm of trough space.”

Plan for surplus lambs

Dr. Cooke also said that it’s important to have a system in place for rearing surplus lambs.

“Ad-lib milk feeding systems using either a thermostatically controlled bucket or a computerised feeder such as the Volac EcoFeeder, will help you save on labour and secure better lamb growth rates,” she said.

“Why spend hours a day bottle feeding when you could be prioritising your time elsewhere?”

Dr. Jessica Cooke, research and development manager at Volac

Dr. Cooke explained that maximising the number of lambs sold per ewe put to the ram is one of the key benchmarks for a successful sheep enterprise.

With lamb prices forecast to remain firm during 2022, it looks like it will undoubtedly pay to make every lamb count.

“Neonatal lamb mortality continues to be a challenging issue for the sheep industry but improving colostrum management and feeding practices could make a significant difference on many farms,” Dr. Cooke continued.

“Once surplus lambs have received enough of this essential first feed during the first 24 hours of life – or a proven alternative such as Volac Volostrum – they can then move onto a performance-formulated ewe milk replacer such as Lamlac, to make the most of their significant early life growth potential.”

Following an adequate colostrum intake, feeding a surplus lamb enough ewe milk replacer is the key to healthy, profitable growth.

A single lamb reared artificially to weaning (at an average of 35 days of age) will require a minimum of 9.5kg of Lamlac (equating to 47.5L of reconstituted ewe milk replacer).

Bottle feeding rearing system:

To make a litre of milk, mix 200g of Lamlac with 800ml of water.

Age of lamb (days)Volume of Lamlac to be fed per day
1-31L, split into four to five separate feeds
4-71L, split into four separate feeds
8-35 (weaning)1.5L, split into four separate feeds initially, reducing to two separate feeds until weaning
Ad-lib feeding system:

When using a labour saving, ad-lib feeding system (warm milk bucket feeding or computerised machine feeding), lambs will drink more (albeit on a little and often basis, which reduces the risk of digestive upsets) but also grow faster.

Whatever the rearing system, lambs should have access to fresh water, roughage and a good quality creep feed at all times to encourage rumen development.

Lambs will begin to nibble on creep feed at 7-10 days of age. Consumption will be low to begin with and offering small amounts and keeping the creep feed refreshed at least once a day will encourage intake.

When it comes to weaning surplus lambs effectively, they should be:

  • A minimum of 2.5 times their birthweight (9-10kg);
  • A minimum of 35 days old;
  • Eating 250g of solid feed/day for 10 days.

Abrupt weaning is recommended because it reduces the risk of digestive upsets associated with gradual weaning.

Lambing season is as easy as 1,2,3

It takes 10kg minimum of Lamlac to rear one lamb to weaning; Lamlac should be mixed at 200g to make a litre and lambs should be a minimum age of 35 days for weaning and 2.5 times their birth weight.

Features and benefits of Lamlac by Volac

  • Concentrated milk protein by ultrafiltration – highly digestible for faster lamb growth;
  • Suits all rearing systems;
  • Lamlac can be used in bottle or machine feeding systems – ideal for feeding through warm ad-lib feeders such as the Volac Ewe 2 or Eco Feeder;
  • Easy mixing even in cold water;
  • A complete feed that provides all the nutrients required by lambs; 
  • Once mixed, stays fresh for 24 hours;
  • Outstanding growth rates proven in performance trials;
  • Also suitable to feed to goat kids.

For more information contact your local Volac business manager by clicking here.