Best practice lamb marking and hygiene

By Katelyn Braine
District Veterinarian
P: 03 5881 9916 | M: 0499 339 018
  • Poor hygiene at lamb marking and mulesing can cause infection and disease
  • A few simple steps can protect the health of your flock
  • Contact the District Vets for more info

Lamb marking can be a busy time, you have a lot to organise and a lot of lambs to get through! But with the wet conditions this year, it is important not to forget about hygiene.

Poor hygiene at lamb marking and mulesing can allow bacteria to enter through open wounds. This can cause diseases such as arthritis or Mycoplasma ovis, a potentially fatal bacterial infection of the blood which causes anaemia. Ensuring good hygiene during lamb marking is important to reduce the risk of infection post marking.

There are a few simple steps you can take to maximise hygiene during lamb marking including:

  • Avoid yarding in muddy/wet or humid/dusty conditions. Avoiding muddy yards will also reduce the risk of foot abscess in your ewes.
  • Soak instruments in disinfectant at the start of the day, clean between each animal and disinfect at frequent intervals.
  • Thoroughly wash and disinfect hands at frequent intervals
  • Follow the label directions for diluting the disinfectant and replace the solution regularly if it is contaminated with blood or dirt – remember if the disinfection liquid is discoloured then the disinfection cannot work!
  • Mark in temporary yards on clean ground or use a system where the lambs can be tipped out of the cradle straight onto their feet where they can walk away
  • Topical pain relief products that also contain antimicrobials, such as Tri-solfen, can help reduce the risk of bacterial infection of wounds as well as providing pain relief. Using any pain relief options will also help prevents lambs from dragging themselves across the ground in pain, therefore reducing the risk of wound contamination.

Lamb marking should be conducted efficiently to reduce the time the lambs are separated from their mothers, while allowing enough time for good technique. Lambs should be returned to the mothers as soon as possible to re-mother. Limiting the time the ewes are in the yards and off feed will also reduce the risk of the ewes being affected by hypocalcaemia. However it is always handy to have a few bags of 4 in 1 flowpack with you at lamb marking so you can treat any ewes that go down in the yards or on the way to/from the yards.

For more information regarding best practice lamb marking, you can contact your District Vet by calling 1300 795 299 or drop into a nearby Local Land Services office.

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