Thursday, December 18, 2014

Heat Lamps

Premier's Prima Heat Lamp in use with young orphan lambs

It's heat lamp season. With the cool to cold weather folks are looking for ways to keep baby lambs and chicks warm. Thus they're relying on heat lamps. We've re-designed our original heat lamps to be significantly more formidable.

  • Easier grill attachment. Instead of snapping on the grill, new design twists on. 
  • Improved chimney system: reduces heat pockets at the top of the lamp. 
  • Glass reinforced material: greater strength and more resistance to higher temperatures (holds up to long use of 250w bulbs). 
  • Shorter length: can be held higher on short wire panels. 
  • Anti-chew cord. 
  • Strong attachment design. Use a heat lamp clip to connect to wire panels. This is significantly stronger than most heat lamp connections you will find.  

Brooding chicks with a Prima Heat Lamp and Heat Lamp Stand


  1. Tie or clip them securely—particularly if adult sheep, goats or pigs are exposed to them. A lamp that falls onto animals or bedding has consequences that can be very serious—including a fire. 
  2. Use PAR glass (pressed glass) bulbs. Far more durable than common heat bulbs. 


  1. For sheep, goats and other non-poultry livestock—don't hang them closer than 20" from bedding or baby animals that can't move away from them. You can hang closer than 20" when brooding chicks, as long as excess heat has a place to escape and the birds are comfortable spread throughout the brooder.  
  2. Don't enclose them in barrels or similar small spaces. The heat must be allowed to move away from the lamps. 
  3. Don't use heat lamps any longer than necessary. (We hear reports of folks using them continuously for 2-3 months.) Lambs and kids only need extra heat when they are weak or wet newborns or suffering from hypothermia. We start weaning chicks off of lamps when they're close to fully feathered. 
For more information on shed-lambing, check out this article on our Guide to All Things Sheep

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lambing Jugs

With lambing season already here for many, a few of the questions we've answered have pertained to lambing jugs. Our lambing system tends to shift from year to year but one of the constants is our use of lambing jugs for indoor lambing.

Q. How big should they be for different breeds? 
A. Usually the following:
  • Small breeds—4'x4'
  • Medium breeds—5'x5'
  • Large breeds—5'x6' or 6'x6' 

Q. How tall should they be?
A. Use your own judgement. Ewes that are flighty or are jumpers, taller panels are recommended. For calmer ewes, shorter sides are acceptable. 

Q. Should they be open or solid?
A. Solid sides have merit in older drafty barns—they block drafts. 
For barns that are not as drafty or if lambing in warmer weather, open sides allow the ewe to see other sheep (in our experience, this helps to calm them). 

Q. How long should the ewes stay in them?
A. Standard for most flocks is 1-3 days. 
  • Big healthy single lambs—1 day in the jug 
  • Twins—2 days
  • Triplets—2-3 days

Q. What is the best bedding to use?
A. A variety of bedding types can be used. We have more or less used them all. 
  • Straw is probably the best/easiest to get (Around $3.25-$5 bale). 
  • Wood shavings are soft and work well but cost a little more ($6-$10 per bale locally).
  • Corn stalks, though rough, are cheap and plentiful in our area. 
  • Corn cobs work well if available. 

Q. What is the best way to water ewes in the jug?
A. We have a few different systems in place for watering our ewes. 
  • The first is a PVC pipe that runs the length of the barn. Holes are cut into the pipe every 4'-5' to allow ewes access to the water. Water constantly flows through the pipe which keeps it from freezing. 
  • For pens not next to the water pipe we use individual buckets
  1. Buckets are filled via a hose. The shepherd walks along the jugs and tops off the buckets. 
  2. A large stock tank is filled and buckets are taken out of the pens, filled by dipping into the tank and returned to the jug. (In talks for being put into practice this year, not official yet.)
Q. How do we feed them in the jug?
A. Welded wire bale feeders, square buckets, BYO feeders and even tile drainage tube have been used in recent years.