Producers can no longer afford to lose lambs in the field and the use of lambing pens have therefore increased in recent years. The use of lambing pens in the Northen Cape is used mostly for two reasons: producing more lambs and speeding up genetic progress because it affords them more control over their flocks. Su-Maré Groenewald, from Veekos, conducted a thorough study of the use of these lambing pens, especially in the Nothern Cape.
Use of temporary facilities
According to her, some producers use open storage areas in which to erect lambing pens; once the lambing season is over, the pens are dismantled and the area cleaned so that it can be utilised for other purposes. Producers erect pens in sheltered areas such as this, as it provides protection against wind, cold weather and predators, thus keeping both ewes and lambs out of harm’s way.
Choosing the correct pen size
Size of lambing pens can vary according to Su-Maré, with dimensions usually ariund 1,8 x 0,9 x 0,0 m. The pen can only accomodate one ewe. It must be noted that pen sizes vary between different breeds and the size of the ewes. “It also essential that lambs are prevented from crawling in adjacent pens.”
Lambing pens material
Su-Maré found that producers use various materials for lambing pens with panels being very popular. It is best to enclose them with wire mesh to keep lambs from crawling through. There are however several well-designed options that keep this from happening.
“Most panels are made from metal, making it very durable and easy to erect, dismantle, and store for the next time. Nowadays some panels are also crafted from recycled plastic,” says Su-Maré.
A good place to start
It is often difficult to switch from an extensive to an intensive system. The easiest way is to start on a small scale with the ewes that yield twins and triplets, and to first sort out the teething problems. Once you have everything under control, you can expand the system.
Read more on AgriOrbit.