Your pre-lambing checklist
Lambing is upon us in Western Australia so it’s time to start thinking about options for pre-lambing to make sure you are preparing your flock for success.
Ella-Jane Bird, animal health and rural products specialist at Elders Cranbrook WA has prepared this check list of things to look for and recommended treatments.
We’ve had a great start to the season for pasture in most parts of WA, however it’s also the perfect environmental conditions for 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) and 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.
As 2021 is proving to have a higher than average worm risk, if you’ve been considering using capsules or a long acting drench option, this is the ideal year to try it. If you are new to capsuling or would just like a refresher, contact your local Elders branch.
Ewes should be vaccinated with Eryvac and Glanvac 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.
Superior Calcium Sulphur Mix works to address all the ewes macro, micro mineral and vitamin needs with a focus on balancing the calcium and phosphorus levels in order to prevent Hypocalcaemia come lambing.
Selenium is one of the key trace elements for sheep production working in conjunction with Vitamin E to support metabolisation, growth and fertility as well as being involved in immune functions.
Unfortunately most of WA is notoriously deficient in selenium and additional supplementation is advised. Selenium deficiency can result in lamb and weaner ill thrift, white muscle disease and reduced ewe fertility.
Lambs are normally first given a booster dose of selenium in their Glanvac vaccine, however this is only a very small dose to get them through the first couple of months of life. Weaning is a fantastic opportunity to prevent against selenium deficiency at the same time as vaccination (particularly ewe lambs).
Vaccinating with Selovin provides a long-term management option for the prevention in selenium deficiency but providing the animal with a consistent dose of selenium for up to 18 months.
There are now four registered pain relief options for tail docking/mulesing available in the Australian market. These are Metacam, Buccalgesic, Numb Nuts and Trisolfen.
The current industry recommendation for mulesing is to use both an analgesic/anti-inflammatory as well as the Trisolfen topically. By doing so you are addressing both the pain relief and wound care needs of the animal.
Trisolfen works as a topical anesthetic and antiseptic. It contains lignocaine, bupivacaine, adrenaline and cetrimide which administers 24 hours of anesthetic relief, constricts the blood vessels to stem the bleeding and antiseptic to keep the wound clean.
Just a reminder; Metacam, Buccalgesic and Numb Nuts are all S4 products and are available via a script from your local veterinarian.
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 and we can also arrange full testing for you through our closest supplier.
Elders stock a range of animal health products.
Need further information or expert advice? Speak to your local Elders branch.