Small Stock Farming: The Imperatives

Nichlas Mbingeneeko

The previous article focused on preparing small stock for mating and selecting an appropriate lambing or kidding season. This article focuses on preparing the ewes for lambing or kidding. In preparing the ewes for lambing or kidding, the farmer needs to vaccinate the ewes against gangrene of the uterus (baarmoeder sponssiekte) two to three months prior to lambing or kidding. Also, inoculate against scabby mouth (vuilbek) one month prior to lambing or kidding so as to prevent udder infection. Literally, ¾ of the growth of the fetus takes place during the last three weeks of pregnancy. The pregnant ewes must thus be given the necessary care and attention. Repeat the treatment that was given to the ewes before mating.

In the event where the grazing condition is poor, the farmer is advised to provide fodder or supplementation to the ewes. This fodder or supplementation may include Rangeland Grower, camelthorn pods, maize (mealies), pellets of your choice, grass bales and lucerne. Give the maize or mealies in small quantities only thrown on the ground, but not put in troughs so as to limit consumption and to prevent fatalities. In addition, the farmer needs to ensure that the pregnant ewes do not have any deficiencies of vitamins and minerals. Molatek Multi Block is a viable option. Moreover, the pregnant ewes must be free from any parasites, i.e. internal and external parasites.

The pregnancy period of goats and sheep lasts for about 150 days, i.e. five months. During lambing or kidding, goat farming, in particular, requires considerable attention and care. Young goat ewes have the tendency to reject their kids. The ewes that reject their lambs or kids need to be kept separately in small pens or pop-up pens (opslaan krale), i.e. only each ewe with its lambs or kids. The practice of tying ewes that rejected their lambs or kids (particularly through the nose) borders on cruelty to animals and it is strongly discouraged.

In the event where the ewes give birth in a kraaled environment, it is imperative that the kraal environment is tidy and hygienic. Alternatively, the farmer may build a new, spacious kraal reserved only for use during the lambing or kidding seasons. Whenever building kraals for small stock, it is advisable to build kraals that are spacious. Kraals that are spacious remain neat and tidy for an extended period of time. Neatness and tidiness, in turn, contribute to a hygienic environment that promotes the welfare of the lambs and kids in particular. If I may hint, where a farmer has ten goats, he or she needs to build a kraal for hundred goats for it to be sufficiently spacious over time.

Since the mating period was curbed at 36 days, i.e. two mating cycles, the lambing or kidding period will be as short as possible. However, the kidding period will be laborious and exhaustive for goats in particular. Detailed planning is, therefore, of cardinal importance in order to make the work a joy and a success. Where possible, goat farmers are advised to increase their workforce during the kidding seasons. Farmers may employ different approaches to caring for the small lambs, such as (a) keeping all the lambs or goat kids behind in the kraal while the ewes go out for grazing, (b) putting the lambs and goat kids in separate small pens with the ewes coming three times a day to let them drink milk, or (c) putting the ewes in small camps where they give birth and stay in such camps with their lambs 24/7. The third approach is strongly recommended as the bond between the ewes and their lambs or kids is not disturbed, the lambs and the ewes are not exposed to any stress of separation and the lambs or kids have access to milk 24/7.

Lambing difficulties may occur. Difficult births can be caused by, inter alia, (a) abnormal presentation of the lamb, (b) unusually large lamb or small pelvic area, (c) an ewe that is too fat or too lean, or (d) a disease. The normal delivery position for a lamb or kid is the head and two front feet being delivered first. If self-delivery is not possible and as a farmer you are not knowledgeable, seek competent assistance. The next article will focus on caring for lambs or goat kids.

Nichlas Mbingeneeko is a renowned small stock farmer and a stud breeder of repute. His stud known as Skuilhoek Stud, in Aranos district, Hardap Region, consists of the Boer Goat, Damara Sheep and the Veldmaster Sheep. If you subscribe to genetic superiority, make Skuilhoek Stud your supplier of choice. His next production auction will be on Thursday, 22 February 2024 @ 18h00 @ Agra/Bank Windhoek Ring, in Windhoek, Namibia, onsite & online auction. Nichlas Mbingeneeko wrote this article in his personal capacity.

Related Posts