3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Country Smallholding today click here

How to treat hypothermic lambs

PUBLISHED: 10:38 09 April 2018 | UPDATED: 10:38 09 April 2018

Stomach tubing a young lamb - a straightforward shepherding task

Stomach tubing a young lamb - a straightforward shepherding task

Archant

Smallholder Tim Tyne advises on the treatment of lambs which are hypothermic

Given that the recent spell of cold weather caught many people in the middle of lambing time, and with threats of more snow to come, it seems appropriate to devote a bit of page space to the treatment of hypothermic newborn lambs.

Firstly, prevention is always better than cure. A strong, healthy lamb with a fit, attentive, milky mother is highly unlikely to become dangerously chilled, no matter what the weather throws at it. Therefore, it stands to reason that the management of the flock during the period immediately prior to lambing is of paramount importance, as is the actual birthing process itself – any ewe that has been unnecessarily or excessively messed about with internally by an incompetent or over-enthusiastic shepherd isn’t going to be giving of her best at this time, and her lambs will suffer the consequences.

It is cold, wet weather combined with hunger that’s the real killer, so it’s crucial that the shepherd is able to identify the early signs of starvation in a lamb, in order to forestall consequent deterioration. Regular observation is key, and an acute awareness of anything out of the ordinary.

The secret of effective treatment of hypothermia in young lambs is known as the five hour rule. By following these simple guidelines it has been found that lambs can successfully be brought back from extremely low body temperature situations. However, failure to follow the five hour rule could result in the shepherd unwittingly being responsible for the animal’s death.

Lambs are born with body reserves of brown fat which provide them with the necessary energy to get to their feet and search for the teat as soon as they’re born. These reserves are exhausted after five hours. Therefore, any hypothermic lamb that’s less than five hours old probably just requires warming and returning to its mother. However, to simply warm a chilled lamb that’s over five hours of age will result in it dying in a low blood sugar fit as its metabolism speeds up. It MUST be provided with source of energy first.

The basic guidelines are as follows:

- Lamb under five hours old, body temperature between 37 and 39°C. Feed warm colostrum by stomach tube.

- Lamb over five hours old, body temperature between 37 and 39°C. Feed warm milk by stomach tube.

- Lamb under five hours old, body temperature below 37°C. Place under heat lamp. Monitor rising temperature. Give warm colostrum by stomach tube when body temperature is between 37 and 39°C and lamb can hold up its head.

- Lamb over five hours old, body temperature below 37°C. Give warm glucose solution by intraperitoneal injection. Place under heat lamp. Monitor rising temperature. Give warm milk by stomach tube when body temperature is between 37 and 39°C and lamb is able to hold up its head.

Given that successful treatment depends on knowing the age of a newborn lamb, and bearing in mind that many lambs are born outdoors, unsupervised at night, so may be several hours old before the shepherd finds them, one should always err on the side of caution: Where the precise age of a chilled lamb is unknown or in doubt, always assume it to be over 5 hours, and treat accordingly.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Country Smallholding visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Country Smallholding staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Country Smallholding account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Interact with other smallholders and post your questions

Visit our forums


More from Land

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Ask the experts: during the hot weather, here’s how to preserve dwindling water supplies

Read more
August 2018
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Debbie Kingsley outlines what smallholders-in-waiting need to consider when buying their first property

Read more
August 2018
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Liz Shankland continues her guide to improving herd productivity, this time investigating the importance

Read more
August 2018
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The long run of sunshine and dry days of summer 2018 is impacting smallholders and their livestock and crops

Read more
August 2018
Monday, July 9, 2018

Our guide to getting your lice and mite treatment up to scratch

Read more
July 2018
Monday, July 9, 2018

Debbie Kingsley outlines the rules and regulations for smallholdings. This month: medicine records and fallen stock

Read more
July 2018
Monday, July 9, 2018

The countryside is not immune to crime - in fact, it’s increasing

Read more
July 2018
Monday, April 9, 2018

Jack Smellie looks at what to do when lambing and kidding doesn’t go to plan

Read more
April 2018
Monday, April 9, 2018

Smallholder Tim Tyne advises on the treatment of lambs which are hypothermic

Read more
April 2018
Monday, April 9, 2018

We feature a family who are committed to self sufficiency on their smallholding on an island in Denmark

Read more
April 2018

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Country Smallholding monthly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

This Year’s Shows

Country Smallholding cover image

Don’t miss our comprehensive guide to rural events

Find out more

Like us on Facebook


Follow us on Twitter