Some farms will be in the thick of lambing while many others will be hitting the ground running over the coming weeks.

Either way, the importance of good hygiene in the lambing shed at this time is hugely important in order to avoid losses.

By doing the simple things well, we can reduce mortality at lambing time. Teagasc says that half of lambs that die are lost in the first 24 hours of life, with one of the main causes being infection, which accounts for a substantial 38% of lamb losses. So the importance of good hygiene cannot be underestimated, as well as lambs getting sufficient amounts of colostrum.

In terms of hygiene, good hygiene practices can go a long way in reducing losses. Doing the simple things right such as liming lambing pens and bedding them with plenty of straw is crucial.

Furthermore, cleaning out these pens after use for the next ewe and her lambs is also very important to do.

Lambs are born with very little immunity so we need to prevent bacteria from getting in contact with them in order to give them the best possible start until their own immune system develops.

We need the lambs born into a clean environment, so as mentioned in a pen that’s limed and has fresh straw which will help to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria coming in contact with them.

Good ventilation is also key, you don’t want a shed that has draughts getting into the lambs or on the flip side we don’t want a stuffy shed either.

Also, we need to look at the lambing equipment that we are using. It’s important to use gloves and lubricant when assisting ewes at lambing.

If you are handling a ewe without wearing clean gloves, you are risking transferring harmful bacteria into the womb of that ewe and potentially passing that onto the lamb(s) too.

It’s also important to thoroughly clean and disinfect any lambing equipment being used such as stomach tubes after each use.

Navel disinfection

Navels give bacteria direct access to spread inside the newborn lamb. The lamb’s navel should be disinfected when they are born and it is advised to do it again four-to-six hours later again.

The idea behind doing this is to speed up the process of drying out the navel, and iodine also acts as an antiseptic for bacteria.