Icelandic ewes are great mothers… for the most part. Most will have an easy lambing season and will lamb without assistance. Read on to discover by best advise for lambing season and get my list of lambing supplies for your lambing kit.
I prefer to be mostly “hands off” when it comes my Icelandic ewes lambing. Though I keep a close eye on them in case any need assistance. Intervention seems to be more common in my yearling (aka OWE or one winter ewes) than older and experienced ewes.
I lamb out my ewes on pasture with a lean-to shelter close by… in Montana, late April into May. I do not jug or confine my ewes unless they need medical attention or there is a severe snow storm or I’m concerned about a lamb’s energy level.
Know that if you interrupt a ewe who is in labor, depending on their temperament, it may stall or stop their labor altogether – creating a situation where you’ll likely need to intervene.
For a normal type lamb birth, this is my lambing procedure…
After a ewe has lambed and had a chance to born with her lamb(s), I venture out into the pasture then:
- check the lamb(s) for full bellies and gender
- update my lambing spreadsheet
- collar (ID mark) the lam(s)
- give each lamb a shot of E + BoSe (and sometimes also B and AD depending on the stress level incurred during birth)
- and strip the ewe’s teats (yes, every ewe, every time)
Here’s my lambing kit contents for lambing season
Things to have on hand during lambing season
The Lambing Kit Basics
(It’s more of a box actually…)
– Nasal Bulb
– Colostrum (paste and/or powder)
– Lamb bottles with small nipples
– Lamb Milk Replacer
– Wide mouth glass jars (to milk ewes into)
– Apple Cider Vinegar
– CMPK (mineral paste for treatment of milk fever)
– Feeding (stomach) Tube for Lambs
– Syringes (3cc, 6cc, 12+ cc)
– Needles (18g & 20 or 22g)
– Glycerine (for enimas)
Note: I’ve never used naval claps or iodine. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or can’t.
The Palpation / Pulling Lambs Lambing Kit
– OB Lube
– Shoulder Gloves
– Wrist Gloves
– Stainless bucket
– Chlorhexidine (disinfectant)
– Paper Towels
– Trash Bags
– Small Rags (ie torn up old clothes)
– Dog Collars and Twine (or another way to tie up a ewe)
Medicine / Injectables for Lambing Season
– Vit B Complex
– Vit A&D
– Vit E
– BoSe (Rx)
– NuFlor (Rx antibiotic)
– Oxytocin (Rx stimulates contractions)
– Anti Inflammatory (ie Rx prevail *administer Oral Only)
Lamb IDs for Lambing Season
– Velcro collars (two colors) aka cattle ID leg bands
– Black ear tag pen (to write names on collars)
Note: I ear-tag when lambs are about 4 to 6 weeks old.
Other Stuff for Lambing Season
– Snacks (for you)
– Binoculars or Video Feed( to spy on sheep)
– Lifeline / Support Network
– Regular ewe pep-talks
Need some tips for how to prepare for lambing season? There are the steps I go through about 30 days prior and leading up to the first estimated due date.
Before Lambing Starts
✔️Inventory lambing supplies
✔️ Order any needed supplies
✔️ Move ewes to lambing pasture/barn
✔️ Ewe health checks + vaccinations + hoof trims
✔️ Lay straw
✔️ Set up lambing jugs (used only in emergencies)
More Lambing Season FAQ
I leave my rams in for breeding season only, which starts around or after Thanksgiving, and for a minimum of 32 days… but no more than 60 days.
I do expose all of my ewe lambs to rams. Some years ALL of the ewe lamb do have lambs. Some years a few of the ewe lambs do not lamb.
Because my breeding season is later than most other shepherd, and is relatively short, my personal experience is that a yearling ewe will get pregnant and maintain the pregnancy if she’s ready.
Most of my yearling ewe moms will single, and some will twin. Yearling ewes do require statistically more help than an experienced ewe.
Important Lambing Season Help & Lambing Resources
If you’re new to lambing, I highly recommend that you have someone to call and a lambing book or resource that you can get acquainted with BEFORE lambing starts and on hand to refer to if issues come up during your lambing season.
Happy lambing season!
Copia Cove Icelandic Sheep & Wool, a sheep ranching operation in beautiful Butte, Montana, is woman-owned and operated by Amika Ryan and her family.
Their 2023 breeding flock consists of over forty registered and unregistered pure-bred Icelandic ewes and FIVE magnificent breeding rams.
Amika’s dream is to offer the best Icelandic sheep breeding stock and selections of handmade, sheep products and gifts made from sheep milk, wool, and sheepskins in North America.
She’s dedicated to promoting Icelandic sheep, sustainable ranching, handmade crafts, and the humane treatment of all animals (and humans).
We hope you stay connected with us throughout our shepherding journey. And, as always, we encourage you to shepherd like a girl!