Spring lambing is now underway on many farms across Ireland and the UK. Safety is paramount at this time of the year as many farmers have sleepless nights at lambing time increasing the risk of accidents. In this article we look at some of the safety risks around lambing time and the practices you can put in place to minimise the risk of accidents on farm.
The Importance of Safety on Farm
Animal handling can potentially be a very hazardous and devastating task if not performed with care, attention & with the correct safety measures in place.
It’s important to note that the majority of accidents that happen on farms are preventable. Farmers and farm workers can take steps to protect themselves, their family, and their employees by identifying hazards, implementing safety measures, and training employees on safe work practices.
A large aspect of springtime for sheep farmers includes handling of lambing ewes and the care of young new-born lambs. To minimize the risk of accidents and injuries on farm, it’s essential for farmers to take a proactive approach to safety and to be aware of the specific hazards associated with springtime activities. There is also a real risk of zoonotic disease transfer or transfer of viruses or parasites from sheep to humans.
In an Emergency
It is crucial for farmers to have an emergency plan in place for dealing with accidents or injuries, and to be familiar with the steps that need to be taken in the event of an emergency. This is also true for fires, power outages, or other natural disasters e.g. storms. Be prepared and ensure you have a first aid kit on hand and know how to use it.
Accidents and injuries can happen at any time and having a first aid kit readily available can mean the difference between minor and major injuries. Additionally, farmers should keep the first aid kit well stocked and should have a plan for dealing with emergencies as well as having emergency contact information readily available.
PRO TIP: Keep your phone fully charged and have your postcode visible on farm. In the event of an accident, you will be able to call for help and if someone finds you they will be able to provide your postcode to emergency services.
It’s always recommended to consult with the correct health and safety governing body (HSA in Ireland or the HSE in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland), and other relevant organizations for the latest and specific safety measures and guidelines in relation to Springtime related hazards.
Two of the most commonly seen zoonotic diseases on sheep farms are orf and toxoplasma.
Orf is caused by a virus and can cause painful skin lesions and is highly transmittable. If you suspect you have oft in your flock, contact your vet to discuss a treatment plan, in the meantime it is good practice to ensure all housing facilities are kept clean and disinfected regularly. This includes you! If you are in contact with sheep with suspected orf wear gloves or wash exposed areas with soap and water. If in doubt, contact your veterinary service provider.
Toxoplasma is a parasite which can also infect humans. Toxoplasma is very dangerous for pregnant women so if you are pregnant, ideally steer clear of lambing or aborting ewes. Again, liaise with your veterinary services provider for treatment options for your flock. Be mindful if you have cats on your farm as they also carry toxoplasma.
When you have multiple ewes lambing together it can be difficult to keep track.
The recommended best practice is to pen ewes according to scanning results e.g. litter size. Think ahead, and also have an ‘extra care’ pen available for unexpected events such as triplet lambing’s. Make sure all pens are clean and disinfected. Inspect pens for damage and repair as necessary.
Remember you can create groups and smart lists in Flockwatch so you’ll know who’s-who when it comes to your ewes. Flockwatch also allows you to record weights in the app, so you can monitor growth rates of lambs quickly and easily.
PRO TIP: Keep lambing house organised. Stack buckets safely, maintain equipment, remove trip hazards and ensure you have adequate lighting.
Tips for Safe Spring Lambing
- Make a plan for extra lambs, where will they go, how will they be fed.
- Know your limitations, if the season has been long, you will be tired and you may not be able to react to an emergency as quickly as normal.
- Make sure you have good light in the lambing shed or at the very least an LED headlamp, just make sure it is charged!
- Make sure lambing equipment is fit for purpose and maintained.
- Keep people who don’t need to be there out of lambing areas.
- Invest in a lambing camera-nowadays they are reasonably inexpensive.
- If you are pregnant steer clear of lambing, due to risk of Toxoplasma.
- Rest and fuel yourself adequately, it can be a long demanding season so take every opportunity to recuperate when you can.
How can Flockwatch Help with Spring Lambing
Use Flockwatch to record Lambing Details
To record a lambing follow these few steps.
Tap on the orange plus button (+).
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.
You too can join 18,000 other farmers reaping the benefits of hassle-free paperwork by downloading Flockwatch by Herdwatch today!