sheep

Lambing Methods

The ewes may be lambed in a lambing shed. With an abundance of high-quality pasture, it is possible to lamb successfully on pasture. Normally, however, a higher percentage of the lambs can be saved when ewes are lambed in a shed or other closely confined area. Lambing method depends on available labor, available facilities, and relative returns.

Shed lambing. Shed lambing requires adequate space to house lambing pens for at least 10 percent of the ewe flock. Lambing pens are usually 4 x 4 foot or 4 x 5 foot enclosures (jugs or jails). Large breeds may need 5 x 5 foot pens. Very often, machinery sheds or other existing buildings on the farm can be used during the lambing season.

Lambing pens should be in a draft-free area of the shed or barn. Prior to lambing, thoroughly prepare the lambing area. Clean the area, erect lambing pens, install necessary heat lamps, and obtain medication.

Gestation typically ranges from 147 or 152 days. However, some ewes may lamb a week early, so it pays to be ready.

Pasture lambing. Compared with shed lambing, feed costs are generally lower for pasture lambing. However, it is usually not possible to save as many lambs because it is impossible to observe all the ewes closely and frequently. However, even when lambing in the pasture, ewes not claiming their lambs or ewes that have extremely weak lambs should be placed in lambing pens. It is usually not advisable to lamb yearling ewes on pasture unattended. However, in New Mexico this is often the only practical method. When yearling ewes are lambing on pasture, graze them in a pasture where they can be observed relatively frequently, such as a trap close to the house or corrals.