5 Tips for a Smooth Lambing Season

Nothing says spring like little lambs and baby goats. Emma Schaffel, DVM, of Waupun Veterinary Services, has noticed an uptick in the number of hobby farms in Wisconsin. Goats and sheep have been a great way for families to get into animal agriculture. It also means a lot of questions in the early spring on how to have success with new babies. There are several steps you can take before and after the little ones hit the ground to ensure success.

Best Practices for Kidding and Lambing Season

1. Maintain careful records

Success starts before the lamb (baby sheep) or kid (baby goat) is born by keeping careful records. Specific notes on when the animal was bred and exactly when the baby is going to come will save you some stress at the time of birth. You don’t want to be caught off guard and have momma out in the cold when she’s ready to give birth.

2. Keep mommas comfortable

Depending on your breeding program, the kidding and lambing season happens from January through April. This is also the time of year that can bring challenging weather in Wisconsin. Another way to ensure a smooth lambing or kidding season is by making sure the expecting mothers are out of the elements and in a clean and dry environment.

  • Consider bringing expecting mothers into a lambing or kidding “jug” – a small pen for an ewe (female sheep)/nanny (female goat) and her lambs/kids to bond
  • Make sure that the space is easy for you to get into and kept clean after the baby is born
  • Consider blankets or coats to keep the babies warm

3. Monitor from a distance

Take caution not to spook the new mothers and interrupt the birthing process. Cameras can help you monitor changes and progress from a distance. If you see the ewes laying down and pushing, that’s progress. You want to see continuous progress within an hour or so. After the water bag exits, you should expect a nose or a hoof to appear.

If everything is in the right position, the lamb comes pretty fast. If not, you may want to reach in and make sure everything is okay.

4. Colostrum is important

Usually, sheep and goats have multiples. When the ewe or nanny stands up after birth and starts licking her babies, it usually means she’s done. Allow the mom to do her job by observing from a distance. She will clean her babies and allow them to nurse. Make sure the lambs or kids get colostrum within hours after birth. If the mom is not letting the babies nurse, you may have to milk the ewe/nanny and feed the lambs/kids with a syringe.

5. Prevent Infection with vaccines

Talk with your veterinarian about a vaccine regime. Tetanus is a common issue for banded male lambs and kids. You can prevent this by making sure the mom is vaccinated before lambing or kidding. The baby will get immunity from the colostrum that comes from it’s mom.

Rural Mutual is the number one farm insurer in Wisconsin so we understand the hard work invested in running a successful farm. Reach out to a local insurance agent to protect your farm.