Pre-lambing health for ewes - Elders Rural Services

Pre-lambing health for ewes

Lambing time is upon us in south-eastern Australia, so it’s time to start thinking about options for pre-lambing to make sure you are preparing your flock for success.


Ideally your ewes should be in a score condition of 3 to 3.5 prior to lambing. If you do scan your ewes, make sure your ewes are split up into twins and singles and are broken up into smaller mob sizes.

You can then put them into paddocks with good cover, feed and water to manage lambing.


Environmental conditions have led to higher than average worm development. Now is the time to be getting checks done to ensure that worm burdens are kept low and under control for lambing/weaning.

The extra moisture and warm days are also ideal conditions for Barbers pole worm, so keep a look out for any signs including:

  • weakness
  • bottle jaw
  • anaemia (mucous membranes around the gums and eyes will be a yellow/white rather than pink)

Remember that Barbers pole alone does not cause scouring.

When selecting lambing paddocks, ewes should have priority for paddocks with a low worm burden and if drenching with a short acting, ensure you are using a drench with higher than 95 per cent efficacy. Use a double or triple active or one of the better single actives such as  Tridecton, Startech or Zolvix. Another good option is a long acting drench like Cydectin LA to cover the lambing season.


Ewes should be vaccinated a minimum of two weeks, but ideally four to six weeks pre-lambing. Not only does this provide the ewe with her required annual booster but it also kick starts the lambs immunity with antibodies from the ewe’s colostrum.


Pre-lambing ewe nutrition is the single most important predictor of lamb survivability. With the majority of foetal growth occurring in the second and third trimester (particularly the last 60 days), now is the time to get the ewes nutrition spot on.

Calcium supplementation should start early to prevent Hypocalcaemia in the ewes, particularly if grazing on cereal crops. This is due to vegetative wheat, barley and oats being deficient in Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium and high in Potassium which exacerbates the Calcium deficiency in the ewes. A ewe’s peak calcium requirement is roughly two weeks post lambing, so ensure to continue supplementation until at least marking time.

Food and water testing

Most Elders branches can facilitate feed testing through Agrifood in Victoria. All you need to do is bring in a 500g sample of the desired grain/legume/hay/straw and we will do the rest.

For water sampling we have salinity meters in our branches. We can also arrange full testing for you through our closest supplier.

Your local Elders branch stocks a range of animal health products. 

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Need further information or expert advice? Speak to your local Elders branch.

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