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A Lambing Time First Aid Kit

Checklists For Barn & Field

By Nathan Griffith

Most of the time when you get a flock health 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 should therefore have certain supplies on hand at all times to cover the most common problems that cause the greatest losses each year.

But what to 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 first aid kit.

Absolute Essentials Kit

Drugs, Chemicals & Nutrients

___ Combiotic® (Penicillin/Streptomycin)
___ Dextrose 5%solution for weak lambs (or Karo syrup)—Lactose would be preferred though, if available
___ Iodine 7% 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

___ 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 On Hand” Kit

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 foot rot 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
___ sheep! Pocket Flock Book

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

Flockmaster’s Essential Flock Health Library

One more item that ought to be on hand in every sheep operation 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, and are available from advertisers in sheep! and the 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 over 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)
___ BACK ISSUES OF sheep! (Don’t throw these away. It is surprising how often you will find tricks and secrets not in any vet manual that will save you thousands of dollars in lost livestock or ease those aching muscles with news ways of doing things. Keep in a safe place with easy access and re-read as opportunity arises.)


___ Lambing Time Management (Three video tapes 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].)

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