Unless it’s a very small lamb and a large ewe, there’s no way for a normal delivery. The first stage of labour proceeds normally in these cases but there is much reduced straining during second stage labour because the lamb does not become fully engaged within the ewe's pelvis to stimulate the powerful reflex abdominal contractions. Lambing problems: tricky births and how to deal with them. when it came to raising animals. For example, if you use a large ram to breed a small-framed ewe, you may notice that your ewe has trouble … For example, a lot of oversized lambs could mean you are overfeeding you ewes during late pregnancy or using too large of a sire breed on your ewes. While this isn’t considered to be an atypical position (in fact, it’s seen quite often with the second of twins), you will more often need to assist with the birth. Figure 5: A hung lamb can easily be missed on casual inspection of the lambing group. The head is presented through the vulva but both forelegs are retained alongside the chest. Seek veterinary assistance immediately. Repulsion of the lamb's head is greatly facilitated by an epidural injection by a veterinary surgeon which blocks the local sensation and reduces the reflex abdominal contractions of the ewe. If the lamb’s head continues to flop out of place, either guide it out with fingers or in extreme cases a sterile cord may be tied around the lower jaw and slight pressure maintained while gently pulling forelegs. Most birthing problems don’t have to do with the lamb being positioned inappropriately but with a disproportion in the size of the ewe to lamb. The number of cases of ringwomb in a flock varies between farms and between years. Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep Prolapse. Common causes of womb infections In multi-gravid litters, delivering all lambs, not just the lamb in malpresentation/ malposture, greatly increases the likelihood of introducing infection deep into the uterus. Digital examination of the vagina reveals the lamb's hooves facing the roof of the vagina (not the floor) and the hocks can be felt by progressing forward. Lameness in sheep is a common and persistent disease, reported in flocks in all sheep producing countries. Gentle traction applied to both forelegs should result in delivery of the lamb within 30 to 60 seconds. Only gentle traction should be necessary to deliver a twin lamb in this situation; if little progress is being made it is essential to check that you have selected the correct limbs rather than pulling harder as this will result in injury to one if not both lambs. simultaneously. And even though this article is about limping sheep, I am not going to discuss sheep foot rot, foot scald, white line disease or sheep bloat. An epidural injection administered by a veterinary surgeon facilitates the various manipulations during correction of the breech posture by reducing the powerful abdominal contractions. The other lamb is gently repelled as traction is applied to the first. You’ll need to push the lamb’s head back in, then reach in and bring its forelegs forward under the head. This is reduced by ensuring ewes are monitored regularly and interventions are carried out in a timely fashion. Signup to our newsletter for regular updates, Author: Phoebe McCarter BVSC MRCVS. Once the hind legs are out, take hold of them with the clean rags or towels and when the ewe has a contraction pull firmly to free the lambs rump. A wire head snare or lambing aid can then be placed around the back of the head behind the lamb's ears and used to guide the head into the pelvic inlet along with the front legs. Hold the leg already out with one hand and feel for the second leg with the other. Luckily, we were able to resolve them quickly – but not without a lot of Googling and calling around to friends who knew what they were doing (more than us, for sure!) If the lamb is dead, the head can be removed instead of repelled to allow manipulation of the front legs. Fig 2: Leg back (early intervention) - the retained (left) front leg lies alongside the lamb's chest and must be brought forward before any traction is applied to the lamb. As the ewe’s labor advances this can become difficult; the hocks of the hind legs could even lodge against the pelvic bone. Figure 8: Necropsy reveals trauma to the rib cage in a large singleton lamb delivered in posterior presentation. Try elevating the ewe’s rump, sometimes the lamb will go back into the womb and will reposition itself into the correct presentation. You can tell if the lamb is right side up or upside down by looking at the feet. Sometimes these cases are not recognised until 24 to 48 hours after the lambs have died and the ewe becomes sick. The past lambing season was one in which I got an advanced education in “Sheep Feet 101.” Thankfully (and knock on wood) we have not had sheep foot rot on the farm. This increases the risk of infection if the lamb is delivered by a subsequent caesarean operation. Lambs that sustain rib fractures during delivery are more prone to respiratory disease. Once both legs and head have been correctly identified they should have lambing ropes applied to ease retrieval. This is an indication of foetal distress before birth. If the bottom of the forelegs’ feet face the ground the lamb is right side up. While a majority of ewes have very few lambing problems, we still need to be armed with knowledge when those rare instances arise. Jack Smellie looks at what to do when lambing and kidding doesn’t go to plan. Hold the leg already out with one hand and feel for the second leg with the other. It is necessary to identify which leg corresponds to which head by tracing the leg to the shoulder region, and then to the neck and head. Lambing Time - Summary. The process is then repeated for the second leg, before gentle traction on both legs results in delivery of the lamb. This assistance usually can be accommodated by slipping a couple of fingers between the lamb and the ewe’s vulva and massaging the vulva over the head or shoulders a little at a time. You will receive an animal health certificate for this subject if you attain the required standard. Rather they are intended to assist you in recognizing potential lambing problems, so you know when you may need to call for professional help.