Sharing tips across countries has been a great opportunity from the SheepNet project to try to glean what might be useful to Scottish sheep farmers.

SheepNet is an EU Horizon 2020 network with other countries (France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Romania, Turkey and Hungary).

In this article we introduce some of tips shared between the farmers of the network that help improve labour efficiency and communication at this key time.

By Claire Morgan-Davies, Poppy Frater and Cathy Dwyer, SRUC

A lamb catching net was an idea offered from Ireland. Using a simple fishing net helps catch and keep the lamb in one place, so if you have to address another lamb or the ewe, it stays put. Other ideas in a similar vein involved using a super crook (a New Zealand invention that binds the ewe’s front and hind legs together) or simply a rope (tip from Turkey and Hungary) to immobilise the ewe temporarily while seeing to her or her lambs.

Various countries offered good shed communication ideas such as blackboards (France), pen labelling with feed bucket lids (UK) or using temporary lamb ID collars (rubber jar seals and permanent marker – a French idea).

Things that may be noted in these ways include: medical treatments, colostrum required/provided, ewe milk availability, abnormal teats, weak lambs, lambing ease or lamb vigour score, or any observation that needs sharing with other lambers. Clear communication will make the whole team more efficient and reduce mistakes and stress, particularly when bringing in seasonal labour.

Finally, a simple toolbelt or toolbox was deemed useful for most contributing countries. Keeping the most used gear such as iodine, marker spray and veterinary supplies on your person in the lambing shed will reduce the number of steps required when seeing to the animals, thereby you can get to them quicker and conserve energy. For the older lambs, a box with the tailing and tagging equipment was valued for efficient animal handling. For outdoor lambing, a waterproof bag with everything handy, including binoculars, was another popular idea.

Lambing is tiring and stressful enough as it is, we hope some of these tips might help make this time of year go more smoothly. Sometimes, it is the simplest steps that can make life easier.

More information is available on the online SheepNet knowledge reservoir ( You can also join the network to receive newsletters and register to upcoming workshops. We are also on Twitter (@SheepNetEU) and on Facebook (SheepNetEU).