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16 February 2022

Before lambing, it is good practice to make sure you have all the equipment that you will require, and that it is clean, sterile and in working order.

One thing often on the checklist is needles, and different sized needles are required for different sizes of sheep. Below the table demonstrates the size required for each class of stock, and it would be recommended to have a stock of these on farm.

Sheep ClassGaugeNeedle Length
Lambs <10kg21 gauge5/8th inch
Lambs 10 - 20kg20 gauge1 inch
Lambs 20 - 40kg19 gauge1 inch
Adult sheep18 gauge1 inch

The gauge refers to the size of the hole in the needle, the higher the gauge, the smaller the hole. You may see needles expressed as 20Gx1, this would be a 20 gauge needle, 1 inch long. The different sized needles, usually have a different coloured head, to help you identify them.

Single use syringes and needles should only be used on one occasion. Pre-lambing vaccinations are often given on a flock basis. For these flock based practices, many choose to use an automatic syringe, a maximum of 25 sheep should be injected with one needle in this scenario, provided the fleeces are clean and dry.

Always read the datasheet for the medicines prior to use, as this may guide you to the size of needle to use depending on the viscosity of the medicine.

Kirsten Williams,

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