Thursday, 27 August 2020 09:04

Shelter key to lamb survival

Written by  Staff Reporters
The Code of Welfare for Sheep and Beef Cattle 2018 clearly states that lambing paddocks should be chosen to mitigate animal welfare challenges such as adverse weather. The Code of Welfare for Sheep and Beef Cattle 2018 clearly states that lambing paddocks should be chosen to mitigate animal welfare challenges such as adverse weather.

With lambing and calving about to start, Beef + Lamb New Zealand is reminding farmers of the importance of providing ewes and cows with suitable, well-sheltered areas for lambing and calving.

Will Halliday, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s senior advisor for animal welfare, says giving birth can be a challenging time for the dam, offspring and the farmer. He adds that potential compromises to animal welfare include disturbance from people, other animals, weather and lack of shelter.

“Shelter is particularly important at this time of the year and will help prevent deaths through starvation and exposure as new-born lambs are very susceptible to wind chill.”

Halliday says it has been a tough year in many regions.

While it might be tempting to run pregnant ewes or cows on forage crops right up to the point of lambing or calving, Halliday recommends farmers allow enough time for pregnant stock to settle into their lambing or calving areas before they give birth.

“In an ideal situation, ewes can be identified according to their lambing cycle, so later lambing ewes can be left on forage crops for longer,” he explains. “But it has been a difficult winter and this has made standard management practices challenging.”

Halliday suggests farmers keep a close eye on ewes and cows and try and move them to a dry, sheltered area so they can calve or lamb with minimal disturbance.

“While it might be tempting to leave them on the forage crop for just a few more days, this can compromise the health of both the ewe or cow and her progeny.”

He says the Code of Welfare for Sheep and Beef Cattle 2018 clearly states that lambing and calving paddocks should be chosen to mitigate animal welfare challenges such as adverse weather or natural hazards and lambing and calving sites should be disturbed as little as possible.

“We know farmers are always striving to do the best by their livestock, but this year they are having to balance up feed resources with maternal behaviour and it is not always easy to get that balance right.”

Spring alert!

The winter and early spring period can give rise to a number of disease challenges for livestock.

This is especially the case in years when feed is tight and body condition is not as high as it could be.

Pregnant animals have increased metabolic demand that continues beyond birth and into lactation. The energy required to sustain pregnancy and lactation has to come from somewhere and may require an animal to divert energy spent on its immune system to other parts of its physiology.

Two broad categories of such disease are metabolic and infectious/contagious.

Metabolic diseases include such conditions as hypocalcaemia (milk fever), hypomagnesaemia (staggers), pregnancy toxaemia (sleepy sickness), and ketosis.

These are generally prevented through diet or supplementation and can be treated with over-the-counter remedies.

Infectious and contagious diseases can include conditions like abortion storms caused by Toxoplasma or Campylobacter, and outbreaks of diarrhoea caused by Salmonella or Rotavirus.

All of the diseases mentioned here can be prevented by effective vaccination. It is highly recommended that abortions or clusters of sick or dead animals are investigated by a veterinarian as early as possible in order to identify the cause and prevent any outbreak from worsening.

More like this

Programme to take beef into future

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics is launching a beef programme, which it says is designed to generate more income for beef producers and the economy while also protecting the environment.

Search starts for young ambassador chef

Applications are open for young New Zealand chefs to plate up their best beef and lamb dishes in the hope of becoming the very first Beef + Lamb Young Ambassador Chef.

National

Job losses worry meat sector

New Zealand's meat processing industry says, while it supports moves away from coal, it has some major concerns about cuts…

Manawatu's economy bouncing back

Although the national economy is still functioning below pre-pandemic levels and the road ahead remains uncertain, the Manawatu region appears…

Machinery & Products

Real handy in all situations

Listening to customers across all sectors of agriculture helps the Handypiece team design and engineer options to make its unit…

Film binding now available

The Kuhn VBP 3100 series variable chamber baler-wrapper combination can now be equipped with the patented Kuhn Twin-reel film binding…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Great idea

OPINION: Your old mate has long argued Landcorp’s farming business – Pamu – is a bigger dog than he is.

Unemployable?

OPINION: Your canine crusader shakes his head at the complete lack of practical and real-world knowledge in both government and…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter