Recording lamb vigour and suckling assistance
In 2006/2007 a group of Terminal Sire breeders introduced a scoring system for lambs to enable the breed to identify differences in lamb vigour and the level of assistance required for lambs to start suckling.
The scoring system was developed with Cathy Dwyer at SRUC and is explained.
Breeders wishing to supply this information can send it as a seperate trait to Signet.
To date over 50,000 measures have been collected for these two traits.
- Lamb Vigour Score
Each lamb should be scored for activity and vigour at 5 minutes after birth. If you would normally give supplementary colostrum by stomach tube at birth of all lambs then scores should be taken before colostrum is given. Score each lamb as follows:
- Very active and vigorous lamb. Holding head up, and on knees, trying to stand up (e.g. balanced on knees and back legs), or has stood, moving towards ewes and may be trying to find udder.
- Active, vigorous lamb. Holding head up, rolled onto chest with knees underneath, maybe pushing up onto knees but not yet trying to stand.
- Weak lamb. Still lying fairly flat although able to hold up head. Not yet trying to raise chest from the ground by pushing up onto knees,
- Very weak lamb. Not yet raised head, may be having difficulty breathing, either no movements or only weak and uncoordinated movements (e.g. paddling).
- Sucking Assistance Score
Each lamb should be given a score for how much assistance was required for the lamb to suck from the ewe. If you normally give supplementary colostrum routinely to all lambs at birth then this score is for any additional assistance that you need to give to that lamb (i.e. don’t count your initial routine tubing as sucking assistance). Lambs are scored as follows:
- Lamb sucking well unaided. Lamb always appears full when checked and no time is required to help the lamb suck from the ewe.
- Lamb required some help to suck (no more than 2 occasions) from the ewe in the first 24 hours of life.
- Lamb needed help to suck from the ewe more than twice, and for more than 24 hours, but less than three days.
- Lamb needed help to suck from the ewe for more than three days.