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Lamb Marking



Lambs should be marked between the ages of 2 and 12 weeks of age, with the youngest animal in the mob being at least 24 hours old. This is to ensure the maternal bond can form. If lambing extends for more than 6 weeks it is best to have 2 marking sessions.


Principles of surgery

Pain relief:

Licenced pain relief products should be given to lambs by injection or oral gel prior to surgical procedures to reduce the impact of these procedures.

Ear tagging:

A National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) ear tag with your brand and registered ear mark must be applied to every lamb at marking.


Should be performed on lambs prior to 12 weeks of age. Animals older than 6 months require anaesthetic. If using the cutting method, lambs should be properly restrained and the knife must be kept clean and sharp. If using rubber rings, application must adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Tail docking:

This is recommended for blowfly control. The best length to dock the tails of lambs (male and female) is just below the third palpable joint. This length also provides protect to the skin of the vulva in ewes.

Lamb Marketing - Tail Docking


Lambs should be vaccinated with a 3in1 or 6in1 vaccine. As a minimum lambs should be protected against pulpy kidney, cheesy gland and tetanus. The marking vaccination may only give protection for 6-8 weeks so a second injection is needed, normally at weaning. For pregnant ewes the booster should be given a month before lambing, as this will also provide immunity to the lamb through the colostrum.

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  1. Maternal antibodies in the colostrum can interfere with the vaccine, so it's important not to give some vaccines too early in life, until the maternal antibody level have dropped.
  2. The first dose of vaccine primes the immune system, but only provides a small amount of short-term protection. In some animals, there may be no protection at all from this dose. 
  3. It's not until the animal is given the second dose of vaccine that the immune system is capable of providing protection against the disease. In most cases, this protection lasts 12 months.
  4. An annual booster dose is required to ensure the immune system of the animal continues to remain high for another 12 months. Without booster doses the animal is at risk of disease.
  5. This is the level of immunity required by the animal to provide protection against infection or disease.


*The first dose of vaccine may not confer protective immunity.

Material antibodies are the proteins present in the colostrum, or "first milk" that provide immediate, but temporary protection for the new-born from infection. The amount of maternal antibodies an animal receives will vary and is influenced by the vaccination status of the dam.

This is a schematic representation to demonstrate the principles of vaccination.

Actual levels of antibody following vaccination will vary from vaccine to vaccine and animal to animal.

Sheep Best Practice Vaccination and Drenching Instructional Video

Post-surgical care

Pain relief spray containing local anaesthetics and adrenalin is applied to mulesing wounds and other open wounds as per label instructions. Flystike prevention can be applied to wool-bearing skin adjacent to wounds to prevent maggot development. Surgical wounds should be clean and not bleeding freely when the lamb is released. Lambs should be lowered gently onto clean grass, allowed to immediately mother up and observed at regular intervals for any complications.

Further Reading

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