Preventing stock losses caused by diseases including watery mouth, joint sick, and scours, as well as mastitis and metritis in ewes is through good environmental hygiene. These infections are caused by bacteria entering the lambs through ingestion, the navel, docking or tagging wounds, many of which could be prevented by good hygiene.
Poor ventilation, a lack of routine faeces collection, a lack of clean straw or bedding, and insufficient disinfection of the pens are all problems that contribute to poor hygiene in the pens because they all cause the accumulation of environmental pathogens. Cleaning feeding equipment is important, but it's often overlooked when you're feeling the pressure of lambing time.
How to improve hygiene practices on the farm and reduce bacteria build-up:
Lambing pens and housing – Lambing pens should be cleaned and disinfected frequently. Make sure there is enough dry and clean bedding available. Wet straw and afterbirth should be removed from pens to prevent disease and keep them clean and fresh.
Colostrum – Colostrum is vital to newborn lambs because it contains antibodies (also known as immunoglobulins, or IgG), which help protect newborn lambs against disease. It is also rich in energy and nutrients that are essential for growth. Lambs need to receive 50ml/kg of colostrum in the first four to six hours.
Iodine application on the naval – Bacteria can enter a newborn lamb directly through the navel. After a lamb is born, the entire navel should be sprayed or dipped, and it's recommended to repeat it after four to six hours. Disinfecting and dehydrating the umbilicus lowers the risk of navel infections. Iodine also functions as an antiseptic for microorganisms. If iodine gets low when using a container for dipping navels, empty it out, clean the bottle and refill it to reduce the risk of passing infection between lambs.
Isolation pens for sick ewes or lambs – Set up quarantine pens in an area dedicated to sick ewes or lambs.
Lamb feeding equipment –Ensure all feeding equipment, such as teats, nipple buckets, stomach tubes and any other feeding items are cleaned and sanitised with a strong disinfectant after every feeding and allowed to dry thoroughly.
Hands and boots – Use disposable gloves, wash hands with soapy water, or sanitise hands regularly. Wear clean overalls to reduce the risk of transmitting pathogens. Boots dipped in a disinfectant foot bath will reduce the risk of carrying pathogens between the quarantine pens to the lambing pens.
Visit www.lionelsvet.co.za for information on lamb rearing and hygiene products.
Contact a Lionel's Vet representative to find the right products for your individual needs: www.lionelsvet.co.za/sales-team