Lambing First Aid Checklist

First Aid Kit Contents to Have on Hand for Lambing Season

Lambing First Aid Checklist

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What should you have in your lambing first aid kit? Here is a handy checklist for your lambing season.

By Nathan Griffith – Most of the time when you have lambing problems or experience a sheep illness emergency, the vet and local livestock supply stores are closed for the weekend, and sheep farm and ranch specialties dealers are days away by mail.

Wise flockmasters raising sheep for profit or pleasure should therefore have certain supplies on hand at all times to cover the most common lambing problems that cause the greatest losses each year.

But what should you stock in your sheep first aid kit?

Here are some lists to get you started. The first “Absolute Essentials” contains the items recommended as especially urgent. The second list is good to have — sometimes also urgent—but not as “usual.” I am greatly indebted to sheep vet extraordinaire Don Bailey, DVM for assembling the essential data for this lambing first aid kit checklist.`

Absolute Essentials Kit to Treat Lambing Problems

Drugs, Chemicals & Nutrients 

____ Combiotic® (Penicillin/Streptomycin)

____ Dextrose 5 percent solution for weak lambs (or Karo syrup)—Lactose would be preferred though, if available

____ Iodine 7 percent tincture for lamb navel disinfectant: or 4 parts water mixed with 1 part Nolvasan®; or any standard topical antibiotic wound dressing spray; or (in a pinch) 1 part copper sulfate mixed with 9 parts water

____ Iodine scrub, antiseptic, dishwashing detergent (for difficult lambing deliveries)

____ Propylene Glycol (for pregnancy disease or Ketosis)

____ Uterine boluses (for assisted deliveries and retained placentas)

____ Slaked lime for disinfecting pens (a.k.a. slack lime or hydrated lime). Powder sold in 50 lb. bags at building supply stores

____ Eye ointment antibiotic for lambs

____ Pepto-Bismol® liquid and lamb scour tablets

____ Disinfectant (Betadine®-or equivalent)

____ Powdered colostrum (unused portion can be kept tightly sealed in freezer)

____ 5-grain aspirin

____ Worming medicines

Essential Hardware to Have on Hand

____ Lamb stomach-feeding tubes (14 to 16-inch catheter tube)

____ Syringes: At least four each of 3cc, 6cc and 10cc sizes; one size 50cc for multi-dose gun-type syringe; and two size 60cc for use with the lamb stomach-feeding tubes (a single size 140cc is way more convenient, if available)

____ Hypodermic needles: One dozen each of 20 gauge x 1-inch, 18 ga. x 1-inch, and 18 ga. x 1/2-inch

____ Towels

____ Bearing Retainers (keep a few on hand just in case—for holding in vaginal prolapses)

____ Lambing snare

____ Plastic sleeves (a roll or box of 50), the kind used for cattle artificial insemination

____ Burdizzo® emasculator or Elastrator-style ring applicator (for castrating and docking)

____ Clean buckets

____ Shepherd’s crook

____ Ewe halter

____ Heat lamps, clamp-on style

____ Heating pad with low-heat settings

____ Nursing bottles and nipples

Nice to Have Kit for Lambing Problems

Drugs, Chemicals & Nutrients 

____ Vitamin A+D (injectable or water-soluble)

____ Clostridium Perfringens C & D antitoxin (for enterotoxemia in lambs if their ewes haven’t been vaccinated on time)

____ Vitamin E/Selenium compound (Bo-Se for white muscle disease)

____ Tetanus Antitoxin

____ Formaldehyde or other footrot treatment

____ Frozen colostrum

____ Milk replacer powder

____ Sore mouth vaccine (only if problem exists on premises)

____ Pine tar or KRS spray

____ Sulmet® (sulfamethazine liquid) and/or ___ Aureomycin tablets (for scours)

____ Sulfon-O-Mix® and sulfa tablets (for pneumonia and coccidiosis)

____ Bloat remedy

____ Mastitis infusion tubes

____ Sheep dip or tick dust

____ Keto-stix® (ketosis test strips)

____ Blood stopper powder (for docking and castrating by knife)

____ Nutri-Drench® weak lamb reviver nutritional liquid

Nice to Have Hardware 

____ Hand-held milking device (EZ-Milker®—nearly a necessity in saving lambs, colostrum, time and frustration. Gently milks out sore udders.)

____ Livestock thermometer

____ Scalpel, blades & surgical scissors for navel and eyelids work

____ Nylon rope—2.5 feet (for difficult deliveries)

____ Knife

____ Marker paint and number set

____ Balling gun (giving oblets)

____ Drenching dose syringe (2 and 4 oz.)

____ Sheep shears or electric clippers

____ Soap

____ Ear tags

____ Hoof trimmers

____ Oxygen tank with valve & tube

For the small items, a large fishing tackle box or workman’s toolbox make it easier to keep everything neat and clean.

Flockmaster’s Essential Flock Health Library

One more item that ought to be on hand for everyone raising sheep is a set of good sheep veterinary books. These can seem expensive, but each book should last a lifetime. Plus, with the first lamb each reference saves, it has paid for itself. The video won’t last as long and can’t be taken to the barn or field. Here is a list of those items that have proved most worthwhile for common lambing problems and are available from advertisers in sheep! and your local bookstore:


____ The Veterinary Book For Sheep Farmers by David Henderson, DVM. (Nearly 700pp of quick, easy to understand sheep health lore)

____ Managing Your Ewe (Laura Lawson’s easily-understood book has helped many thousands of sheep growers avoid flock problems for decades)

____Storey’s Guide To Raising Sheep (Has guided hundreds of thousands of new sheep raisers for more than 30 years)

____ Storey’s Barn Guide To Sheep (shows pictures of actual procedures)

____ Lamb Problems (Laura Lawson’s book on easy recognition and treatment of over 150 lamb troubles)

____ Merck Veterinary Manual (Contains concise info on all aspects of animal and bird ailments—especially recommended for advanced sheep growers who also keep other livestock and pets, about 2700pp)

____ Gates’ Practical Guide To Sheep Disease Management (By the folks at Pipestone Vet Clinic—a handy little sheep vet book with some remedies and info not found elsewhere)


____ Lambing Time Management (Three videotapes available from several advertisers in sheep! that show actual hands-on methods of dealing with lamb and ewe medical problems, especially those at yeaning [lamb birth].)

Originally published in the Jan / Feb 2009 issue of sheep! and regularly vetted for accuracy. 

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