It is that time of year again – time to prepare for lambing and kidding! I keep a kit of all the things we need to have on hand for lambing and kidding in a big lidded plastic bin. We are 1 hour away from the closest large-animal vet, so we are careful to have anything and everything we need to deal with an emergency ready and on hand. Our vet is great about talking me through things on the phone and telling me doses of meds when he can’t get here in time. But if I don’t have the items and meds needed to do what he says, there is no point. He helps us come up with a list of meds and supplies to have on hand.
The lambing kit needs to be cleaned out and inventoried each year so we are sure that we have what we need. Last year Rose had a very dangerous birth, with twins that were both mal-positioned. Thankfully we were able to get them safely delivered and everyone survived. But somehow in the chaos the kit was torn all apart and then shoved back together and in the busy-ness of last summer I never got it cleaned from that. So when I pulled it out of the barn loft this year it was a pretty gross mess. The betadine had spilled and everything needed cleaning. Thankfully, most of the supplies are in zip-lock plastic bags, which protected them from a lot of it. But the bags needed replacing.
I got it cleaned and inventoried, and Mtn Man made a trip to the vet supply store to stock back up on what we needed.
I think each homesteader’s lambing/kidding/vet meds kit will look a little bit different based on their situation, but many things are probably in everyone’s kit. Our kit is put together with our specific situation in mind, and it changes a little each year as we have more experiences and learn more.
As I said above, most items are in ziploc bags after I have cleaned the item. And we put everything together into a big plastic tub with a lid. We are not keeping it in the barn because we are still getting below freezing some nights. The mud room doesn’t freeze, but is easy access to grab the kit and take it to the barn.
We are over an hour away from the closest large-animal vet, we are also over an hour away from a vet supply or ranch store that would have what we might need to buy last-minute. So this kit is intended to cover all our bases.
Old Towels & Paper Towels
It is pretty obvious what these are for. Drying off the lamb/kid, clearing the mucous from the nostrils, drying and wiping hands, etc.
Lamb/Kid Pulling Ropes
In case we need to re-position or pull a lamb.
Our favorite sheep book is Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep. It has good, detailed information about lambing and different problems that might arise. We want to have this book in reach for reference if a tough situation comes up.
For trimming the navel if necessary, along with many other potential uses.
Notebook & Pen
For jotting things down as the process goes along. Especially the time that different things occurred. If there are problems, it is important to know how long the ewe/doe has been in labor and how long she has had issues. Knowing this helps one make better decisions about intervention, and when I call the vet, he always wants to know times.
Flashlight and Headlamp with New Batteries
Barns are dark…enough said. 🙂
Navel Dip Cup
This can be any type of small containers. They are available to buy, or you can use a baby food jar, a shot glass, etc.
For navel dipping and for cleaning our hands and the ewe/doe if we need to help re-position a lamb/kid.
Latex gloves, OB gloves, and OB Lubricant
In case we need to re-position or pull a lamb/kid.
To help nutritionally boost a weak lamb.
Lamb Milk Replacer & Colostrum Supplement, Nipples and Bottles
In case we have a rejected or orphaned lamb that needs to be bottle fed. Or if we have a ewe that doesn’t make enough milk for her lambs. We try to milk out a little colostrum each year and freeze a few ice cubes of it. Then we have it on hand if needed. It doesn’t keep well past 1 year in the freezer.
Lamb/kid Stomach Tube
We are reluctant to use this and will only use it if it is absolutely necessary to save a lamb/kid’s life. I have successfully tubed a horse and a cow before, but it is dangerous and we would like to avoid it at all costs if possible. We decided to have it on hand just in case.
Syringes of different sizes
These have multiple uses, including force feeding a lamb/kid that can’t suck, and giving injections.
Elastrator & Bands
We use the Elastrator for tail docking and castrating. Tail docking happens the 2nd or 3rd day of life, and castration around the 10th day of life. As suggested in the Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep, we are storing our bands in a shallow jar of rubbing alcohol. This keeps them clean and sanitized, and we can dip the Elastrator tool in it right before use to sanitize it.
We added in one that we had from when our kids were infants. It is very helpful for sucking gunk out of noses and throats if the lamb/kid is having trouble breathing or inhaled some fluids.
That is everything in our lambing/kidding kit.
Because we live so far away from a large animal vet, we have a very thorough vet kit as well. A few items in the vet kit that might be necessary for lambing/kidding and afterwards are:
Syringes & Needles
For giving injections
Penicillin & Tetracyclene (antibiotics)
If we have to go into the uterus for any reason we will be giving the ewe/doe a shot of penicillin afterwards to prevent infection.
Used for several different reasons, after all the babies are out to help the ewe/doe.
Ewes can suffer from pregnancy toxemia in the weeks before birth or right after birth. It has to do with a ewe not having high enough calorie intake. It is most common with twins and triplets because the lambs are taking so much nutrition and so much space that she can’t ingest enough feed to keep up with their needs. Ketone dip strips are how this is diagnosed.
This is what we would use to treat a ewe found to have pregnancy toxemia.
Medication needed to treat milk fever.
Some of these items might be over-kill for a homesteader with a vet and vet-supply store close by, especially because they expire and thus might not be used and just have to be thrown away and replaced again. But for us, isolated from those things, we want to have all our bases covered in case of an emergency.