What is Lamb Hypothermia?
Hypothermia, which literally means ‘temperature below normal’, occurs when too much body heat is lost or too little body heat is produced, and the result is a drop in body temperature.
The healthy temperature range for a lamb is between 38.5 and 39.5 degrees Celsius. Newborn lambs cannot regulate their body temperature so succumb to hypothermia very quickly. Usually born across the coldest months of the year, hypothermia is inevitable in lambs that have not received adequate colostrum, because they lack the energy stores to maintain their body heat. Lambs are born with a store of brown fat around the heart and kidneys. This is their only source of energy during their first hours, and they use it up quickly. If they don’t get colostrum within those hours, their bodies will be deprived of energy and heat, Lamb Hypothermia will ensue. Lamb Hypothermia puts a huge strain on a baby’s organs. Depending on the stage of organ shutdown, recovery may or may not be possible.
Signs of Lamb Hypothermia
Lamb can’t walk
Lamb laying on their side
Cold inside the mouth
Cold just inside the ears
Treatment for Lamb Hypothermia
NB Do not feed a hypothermic lamb any milk or colostrum until their body temperature has been raised.
If you don’t have immediate access to a warming bath, wrap the lamb in something to protect them from the cold and bring them inside as soon as possible.
When hypothermic lambs arrive they can be placed into a warming bath to raise their body temperature slowly. This must be done very gradually starting with luke warm water and then adding warmer water to very slowly raise the water temperature. This process can take up to an hour. It is essential that this process is not rushed.
An Intensive Care Unit, if available, is also of great assistance in providing the same care.
Once the lamb’s core temperature has been raised, an energy boost can be of great assistance to recovery from Lamb Hypothermia. Glucose syrup can be rubbed into their gums for rapid absorption. Nutripet and VAM are other form of high-energy vitamin concentrate often used a part of recovery from Lamb Hypothermia.