Douglas, F., Sargison, N. D. 2018. Husbandry procedures at the point of lambing with reference to perinatal lamb mortality. Veterinary Record 182(2), 52.
Any management practices which ensure correct nutrition of pregnant ewes, avoidance of dystocia, provision of energy and protective antibodies through colostrum, and a strong maternal bond will enhance the perinatal lamb survival rate.2 However, the relative importance and practicality of such practices differ between farms, and in the absence of accurate records or survey data,3 their impact is unclear. A questionnaire was created using the Bristol Online Survey tool. Questions focused on tasks that are carried out to keep ewes and lambs healthy and in a good welfare state during the lambing period, with the aim of describing those procedures that might impact on lamb survival. Respondents were asked to assign a subjective overall rating of farm husbandry as a ‘student quality score’ (SQS) of 0 (awful) to 5 (excellent). Our survey suggests that implementation of no single animal husbandry task or procedure at the time of lambing will enhance perinatal lamb survival. While the correlation between SQS and lamb mortality cannot imply causality, it shows that not following good husbandry procedures as a whole carries a risk of higher mortality, highlighting opportunities for general improvements in animal husbandry and care at lambing to improve lamb survival.