Young lambs are prone to hypothermia, particularly if they get wet or aren’t getting enough colostrum or milk from Mum. The procedure for treating hypothermic lambs is given in the flowchart below:
Information on stomach tubing and glucose injections can be found elsewhere, so for now let’s concern ourselves with how we warm up cold lambs.
I built a plywood lamb warmer box last year, but only just got around to finishing it off and fitting the heater control. Here’s how I did it:
- I used a plastic bread tray for the floor. This is perfect because it lets the heat rise up from underneath the lambs to warm them. Also it’s easily cleaned or disinfected, whilst the holes are too small for lambs to get their feet trapped in.
2. I turned the bread tray upside down, built a plywood box around it, and fitted an electric fan heater on one side. This is arranged so that the heater is mounted in a vertical baffle chamber so that the hot air is forced downwards to the floor, then upwards past the lambs and out of vents at the top of the other side of the box.
The box has an internal partition which divides it into a space for two lambs (e.g. twins which you want to keep together), and another space for a single lamb.
3. I then fitted a cheap thermostatic temperature controller. The temperature sensor is mounted right in the middle of the warming box (marked by the red circle in the photo above), and the controller mounts very crudely through the side panel (this isn’t art or craftsmanship; it’s functional engineering, and yes, I did make a mess of the plywood!)
The controller can then be set to control to any temperature you like. The key here is to warm the lambs, not to cook them, so take their temperature regularly and watch out for them panting.
4. I then finished the box off with an old caravan window which was lying in the back of the shed when we moved here, and which I kept in case it came in handy one day.
5. And that’s it! Hopefully I won’t have to use this too often, but it saved two lambs last year before it was even finished, and I’m sure will go on to give many years of service.