Managing respiration is important


Problems with respiration in lambs are of considerable economic importance to the sheep industry. 

Monitoring your flock

Monitoring your flock regularly has many lamb health benefits.
A healthy lamb will:

  • Be active throughout most of the day
  • Nurse regularly
  • Have a warm nose
  • Have a rectal temperature 37.5 - 39oC
  • Not have any swollen joints

Keeping the respiratory tract healthy

To succesfully manage respiratory health in lambs, a number of precautions can be taken. 

  • Stress


    Stress usually results in lower immunity, so avoid stressful situations whenever possible.

  • Vaccination


    Good lamb vaccines are available. Passive immunity derived from sheep colostrum will last up to 6 weeks of age. Lambs should be vaccinated twice before passive immunity declines. Consult your vet to ensure lamb vaccinations are carried out at the right moment to keep the lungs of your lambs healthy.

  • Housing and ventilation

    Housing and ventilation

    Avoid overcrowding.

    Avoid variations in temperature and humidity as much as possible and ensure sufficient ventilation.

    Avoid lambs sharing air space with older sheep once they have been weaned

  • Colostrum management

    Colostrum management

    Sheep colostrum contains high levels of antibodies that can improve respiratory health of lambs, particularly if the dams have been vaccinated. Breeding ewes require a primary course of two injections four to six weeks apart, followed by an annual booster 4-6 weeks before lambing. 
    Ensure lambs drink enough sheep colostrum in the first 24-36 hours of life. Check if the ewe has sufficient colostrum. Monitor the lamb closely to make sure it nurses, and check if the stomach is full by palpating it.

  • Weaning lambs

    Weaning lambs

    Weaning stress results in the suppression of the immune system. Reduce the amount of stress associated with weaning as much as possible:

    - Do not mix lambs from different groups at the same time they are being weaned.
    - Move the ewes to a different pen/pasture and leave the lambs in the pen/pasture where they began weaning.
    - Avoid other procedures that involve handling the animals, so for example deworm them a few days before weaning rather than at weaning, do not trim their claws at weaning etc.

  • Mixing lambs from different sources

    Mixing lambs from different sources

    Transport stress and mixing may result in a suppression of the immune system. Animals with different immune status that are being mixed and transported to a new environment may require additional support to manage their respiration.

  • Overcrowding


    Overcrowding results in stress and reduces the airspace per animal. Avoid overcrowding and ensure optimal ventilation if lambs are being housed indoors.

Managing periods lambs require extra support

On a normal sheep farm, there are certain periods lambs need extra support to manage their respiratory health which can be identified beforehand. During these periods, it may be beneficial to improve breathing and stimulate the clearance of the respiratory tract.

Act quickly to facilitate easy breathing