Lambing season is a significant part of any farmer’s annual calendar, yet the work to prepare for this important and intense time of year starts well in advance of peak springtime. It is estimated that 16 million ewes give birth in the UK every year, but still many farmers experience unnecessary lamb losses during the key season.
The majority of lamb deaths happen within 48 hours of birth and each loss has been calculated to cost a farmer approximately £20 – £25, so putting simple measures in place to reduce this risk is essential.
BASF rural hygiene specialist Helen Hall said that as we approach lambing season, farmers should look to increase levels of hygiene in enclosures to prevent these losses, advises:
Mrs Hall said: “A focus on hygiene is one of the simplest and most economical ways to reduce the spread of disease and promote healthy conditions across farms and in lambing sheds. More frequent and thorough use of disinfectants is one of the easiest ways to reduce lamb losses throughout the lambing season.”
To effectively use disinfectant in lambing sheds, Helen suggests the following approach:
- Thoroughly disinfect all accommodation before the start of lambing. This is best achieved by pressure washing the sides and floors of pens with a quality bactericidal detergent before spraying with a disinfectant;
- Before lambing season begins, ensure any sick ewes are penned separately from the main flock. Similarly, once lambing begins any lambs that show signs of disease or illness should also be separated and treated accordingly, to help contain the spread and reduce contaminating other ewes and lambs.
- Bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms are often present on clothing and boots. Those working with birds should wear clean overalls and dip boots in disinfectant to reduce the risk of introducing harmful diseases. Before entering the shed, it is also good practice to wash hands with an anti-bacterial soap, especially when examining ewes or lambs and assisting with lambing.
- Any equipment that is being used in conjunction with lambing should be disinfected in a solution of Sorgene Xtra before being used. Farmers should use a clean bucket and a solution of 1:250 of disinfectant to store water bowls, teats and milk dispensers. Solutions should be changed frequently to prevent the build-up of bacteria.
- Pens should be mucked out and disinfected regularly, ideally after each ewe. Old bedding should be removed and replenished with generous amounts of fresh bedding every day.
Disinfectants like Sorgene Xtra can be used for general hygiene, spraying or specific disease control depending on the concentration used and application techniques.
Mrs Hall added: “Sorgene Xtra is a Defra-approved, broad spectrum environmental disinfectant, which contains a stabilised blend of peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide. It is effective against viruses, bacteria, and hard to kill fungal spores.”
“It can be used at 1:250 for general hygiene 1:200 for lambing pens, and at 1:100 between lambings, for foot/wheel dips and vehicle spraying. What’s more, it breaks down after use and leaves no residue, so no rinsing is necessary, and all sheds and pens can be re-stocked soon after application.”
“These simple steps and effective tools will help reduce the spread of disease that may result in unnecessary lamb losses and prevent farmers suffering substantial financial losses, as well as protect their ewes and lambs.”