Outdoor lambing

JohnAC

Member
Livestock Farmer
This year we have more ewes and shed space is goin to be tight we are thinking about trying to lamb 40 ewes outside all our ewes are easycares so they should suit ok my biggest concern is feeding is some crystalyxs buckets enough to keep them goin or shud we feed them some meal? we have a couple of feilds with rushes in would it be an idea to lamb in them for shelter or are clean fields better? We never lambed outdoors before and sort of nervous about it but like the idea. Thanks for any replies
 
This year we have more ewes and shed space is goin to be tight we are thinking about trying to lamb 40 ewes outside all our ewes are easycares so they should suit ok my biggest concern is feeding is some crystalyxs buckets enough to keep them goin or shud we feed them some meal? we have a couple of feilds with rushes in would it be an idea to lamb in them for shelter or are clean fields better? We never lambed outdoors before and sort of nervous about it but like the idea. Thanks for any replies
I think fields with rushes are great, as it gives shelter to the lambs (the only time I like rushes!), I have also read about using old tractor tyres cut in two (like two big letter C's) laid about to provide shelter for the lambs is a good idea.

As for feed, singles, silage and the odd block, twins, cake plus silage. I was told, that 90% of lambing problems (or lack of them!) is about feeding during pregnancy.
 

exmoor dave

Member
Location
exmoor, uk
This year we have more ewes and shed space is goin to be tight we are thinking about trying to lamb 40 ewes outside all our ewes are easycares so they should suit ok my biggest concern is feeding is some crystalyxs buckets enough to keep them goin or shud we feed them some meal? we have a couple of feilds with rushes in would it be an idea to lamb in them for shelter or are clean fields better? We never lambed outdoors before and sort of nervous about it but like the idea. Thanks for any replies

I defo wouldn't attempt to feed cake while they are lambing, it will just be a miss mothering nightmare.
If the grass is going to be too tight to avoid no extra feeding once lambing starts, then IMO I'd use the small crystalyx buckets and spread them out over the lambing area as much as possible so newly lambed ewes aren't travelling too far to a bucket.
 

Timbo

Member
Location
Gods County
Yea scanned last week was thinking of trying to lamb some twins to start with so I could try and get another lambs onto the singles. Plenty of grass among the rushes

Yes, but is is the grass of any benefit to them? Def stop feeding cake at point of lambing - can you move them to a next door field and resume feeding as they lamb?
 

Fendt516profi

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Yorkshire
Yea scanned last week was thinking of trying to lamb some twins to start with so I could try and get another lambs onto the singles. Plenty of grass among the rushes
I thought that might be the case, my thinking is you lamb singles and triplet's inside to try wet adopt triplet's and lamb twins outside, so you turn a single out with twins and some of your twins outside lose a lamb leaving them with a single. But then i also feed cake to sheep right through lambing
 

toquark

Member
We lamb all our Easycares outdoors. Dykes, rushes and the odd field tree provides enough shelter they do just fine. I started rotational grazing last year for the first time and was concerned about shelter in some of the paddocks, but they managed well, considering we were still getting snow into May.

During pregnancy, twins get cake & buckets plus some hay if the weather's hard or later when the grass gets tight. Singles just get buckets plus hay in hard weather.
 

Bwcho

Member
Location
Cymru
This year we have more ewes and shed space is goin to be tight we are thinking about trying to lamb 40 ewes outside all our ewes are easycares so they should suit ok my biggest concern is feeding is some crystalyxs buckets enough to keep them goin or shud we feed them some meal? we have a couple of feilds with rushes in would it be an idea to lamb in them for shelter or are clean fields better? We never lambed outdoors before and sort of nervous about it but like the idea. Thanks for any replies
Don't be nervous. I'd be the same if it was the other way around. I've only lambed indoors for a couple of seasons and I think that the thought of going back to that would be enough for me to stop lambing ewes altogether. You've got the right breed of ewes for outside lambing so that's a big positive. What ram are they in-lamb to and what date are you due to lamb outdoors?

Sheep of most breeds cope with outdoor lambing marvellously. I think the biggest difficulty is with altering and training the mindset of the farmer, especially if he/she have been familiar with indoors lambing. You won't be able to adopt the same hygiene practices outdoors that you would indoors, yet the irony is mother and baby seem to be just as healthy (if not healthier).

As has been mentioned, disturbance is something to be mindful of and sticking to the same routine in the lead up to lambing is really important e.g. if your ewes don't see a quad bike for 11 months of the year, I'd suggest you stick to walking around them or familiarise them in plenty of time to the engine noise. On a personal note, I have a problem with a handful in the flock who get flighty when I shine my head torch light on them as part of my nightly checks. It's only 4 ewes but the unsettling it causes to the others as a result, is something I want to avoid.

On the subject of feeding, I find that buckets of Supalyx High Energy & Protein (green) or Downland Optilyx (red) do a great job. Don't be afraid to give them some cake if they need it, but buckets are less disruptive.

Foxes/magpies/crows and Newcastle United supporters will as ever, be your enemies and you have to resign to the fact that some losses will be incurred this way.

Do you have handling facilities or tracks in the fields that would lead to an area where they could be penned if needed? I'd prioritise these fields for lambing in case they're needed for A&E. As for fields with reeds, it's all contextual, as if lambs were born with us in the field we have reeds in, they'd be needing armbands and snorkels. But a good hedge is invaluable.

Good luck with it, you'll be absolutely fine. Let us know how you get on 👍🏻
 

Fendt516profi

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Yorkshire
Don't be nervous. I'd be the same if it was the other way around. I've only lambed indoors for a couple of seasons and I think that the thought of going back to that would be enough for me to stop lambing ewes altogether. You've got the right breed of ewes for outside lambing so that's a big positive. What ram are they in-lamb to and what date are you due to lamb outdoors?

Sheep of most breeds cope with outdoor lambing marvellously. I think the biggest difficulty is with altering and training the mindset of the farmer, especially if he/she have been familiar with indoors lambing. You won't be able to adopt the same hygiene practices outdoors that you would indoors, yet the irony is mother and baby seem to be just as healthy (if not healthier).

As has been mentioned, disturbance is something to be mindful of and sticking to the same routine in the lead up to lambing is really important e.g. if your ewes don't see a quad bike for 11 months of the year, I'd suggest you stick to walking around them or familiarise them in plenty of time to the engine noise. On a personal note, I have a problem with a handful in the flock who get flighty when I shine my head torch light on them as part of my nightly checks. It's only 4 ewes but the unsettling it causes to the others as a result, is something I want to avoid.

On the subject of feeding, I find that buckets of Supalyx High Energy & Protein (green) or Downland Optilyx (red) do a great job. Don't be afraid to give them some cake if they need it, but buckets are less disruptive.

Foxes/magpies/crows and Newcastle United supporters will as ever, be your enemies and you have to resign to the fact that some losses will be incurred this way.

Do you have handling facilities or tracks in the fields that would lead to an area where they could be penned if needed? I'd prioritise these fields for lambing in case they're needed for A&E. As for fields with reeds, it's all contextual, as if lambs were born with us in the field we have reeds in, they'd be needing armbands and snorkels. But a good hedge is invaluable.

Good luck with it, you'll be absolutely fine. Let us know how you get on 👍🏻
Stop shining your torch at them or get rid of them
 
Stop shining your torch at them or get rid of them
or stop checking at night... (obv choose at your own risk) but as im usually giving them a new break each day - since doing it in the evening i rarely ever have night time lambing (equiveleant to a dusk feed of cake) still doing dusk/dawn checks but since dropping the late night checks i am more rested and seem to have less issues.
 

Fendt516profi

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Yorkshire
or stop checking at night... (obv choose at your own risk) but as im usually giving them a new break each day - since doing it in the evening i rarely ever have night time lambing (equiveleant to a dusk feed of cake) still doing dusk/dawn checks but since dropping the late night checks i am more rested and seem to have less issues.
⬆️⬆️
 

Electricfencer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Cotswolds
Trouble is people who do night checks can't stop cause they sort so many problems that they would lose otherwise. People who don't do them won't start cause they won't save enough lambs for the amount of effort
I don’t do night checks on outside, very rarely I see them past 6.30. In side last check is 10. But to like to be at both inside and out as the sun is coming up.
 

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