The cessation of production in Chile has led to supply deficits and as a result some farmers are seeing prices up to four times the normal retail price. In this article, as part of our spring lambing series, we look at alterative options to iodine as a naval disinfectant and review the importance of using naval disinfectant. 

The Importance of Disinfecting the Naval

The first few weeks of a newborn lamb’s life are crucial for their health and survival. As a result, it’s critical to take all necessary measures to protect them from illnesses and infections. In addition to colostrum, naval disinfection, which involves treating the newborn’s umbilical cord stump to prevent the entry of harmful bacteria into their system is critical for illness prevention. 

Naval infections are a common problem for newborn lambs, as their immune system is still developing and they are more susceptible to diseases. These infections can have significant negative impacts on their overall performance and health.  Even milder infections can cause reduced growth rates, decreased feed intake, and increased susceptibility to other diseases.

In one academic study, lambs that received proper naval disinfection had significantly higher average daily gains (ADG) than those that did not receive disinfection. The lambs that received disinfection also had lower mortality rates and required fewer antibiotic treatments. This indicates that proper naval disinfection not only reduces the risk of infection but also improves overall lamb performance.

Copper Sulphate

Ewe post lambing

Iodine has long been the preferred solution for naval disinfection. However, the current shortage of iodine has led many farmers to look for alternative treatments. Copper sulphate is one such alternative that has been shown to be effective in preventing infections. Copper sulphate is a naturally occurring mineral that has antifungal and antibacterial properties, making it an ideal candidate for naval disinfection.

It is also more readily available and less expensive than iodine, making it an attractive option for farmers. To use copper sulphate for naval disinfection, it is typically mixed with water to create a solution. The solution is then applied to the umbilical cord stump using a spray bottle or by dipping the stump into the solution. This process should be done as soon as possible after the lamb is born, ideally within the first few hours, to prevent bacteria from entering the lamb’s system.

It’s important to note that while copper sulphate has been shown to be effective in preventing infections, it is not a replacement for good hygiene practices. Farmers should still take all necessary measures to ensure that the lambing environment is clean and sanitary. This includes cleaning and disinfecting all equipment and surfaces, as well as ensuring that the lamb’s bedding is clean and dry if lambing indoors.

lamb newborn

Other Alternatives To Iodine

In addition to copper sulphate, there are several other alternatives to iodine that can be used as naval disinfectants in lambs. These alternatives include:

  1. Chlorhexidine: Chlorhexidine is a powerful disinfectant that is effective against a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It is commonly used as a skin antiseptic and is also effective for naval disinfection in newborn lambs.
  2. Silver nitrate: Silver nitrate is another alternative to iodine that can be used for naval disinfection. It has broad-spectrum antibacterial activity and can prevent infections in newborn lambs.
  3. Povidone-iodine: While iodine itself may be in short supply, povidone-iodine is a synthetic compound that contains iodine and can be used as an alternative for naval disinfection. It has broad-spectrum antibacterial activity and is effective against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.
  4. Alcohol-based solutions: Alcohol-based solutions, such as ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, can also be used for naval disinfection. These solutions are effective against bacteria, viruses, and fungi and are easy to apply.

It’s important to note that while these alternatives to iodine have been shown to be effective in preventing infections, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, some solutions may be more irritating to the skin or may require a longer application time. Therefore, farmers should consult with their veterinarian to determine which disinfectant is best for their specific lambing environment and management practices.

Use The Correct Concentration

When using naval disinfectants for newborn lambs, it’s important to ensure that the correct concentration of the disinfectant is used. If the concentration is too low, it may not be effective in preventing infections, while if it’s too high, it may be too harsh and irritating to the lamb’s delicate skin.

If you are not using ready-to-use mixes of naval disinfectants, they must carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing the disinfectant solution. This typically involves measuring the correct amount of disinfectant and mixing it with the appropriate amount of water to achieve the desired concentration.

If in doubt speak to your veterinary practitioner or local Agri merchant who can advise you of available options.

How Can Flockwatch Help During Lambing?

To record a lambing follow these few steps.

Tap on the orange plus button (+).

Then tap on lambing record or use the search bar above to search for this option.

Tap on the ewe who’s lambed.

>Fill in the required details, Date of birth, season born, lambing number and how many lambs she had.

Tap the next button and this will bring you on to fill in the details of each lamb.

Once details are filled in for each lamb press the save button

If you have an EID reader the process is even easier as you can scan the new lambs tags in against the ewe, saving time and reducing the risk or error. 

In our next software update , farmers will also be able to view a lambing dashboard with information about the current lambing season including total of ewes lambed and average lambs/ewe.

Flockwatch screen

If this sounds like the solution for you, you too can join 18,000 other farmers reaping the benefits of hassle-free paperwork by downloading Flockwatch by Herdwatch today!