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Tips For Treating Lambs Navels

23 March 2018

A wet navel allows for a direct route for bacteria to travel into the lamb. To prevent this follow these simple steps:

  • The navel should be treated with 10% iodine as soon after birth as possible and then again 6 hours later.
  • Tincture of Iodine is the best product as it will dry the navel and has an antiseptic effect.
  • Dip the entire navel.
  • Keep the container of iodine clean. While dipping navels, bacteria, straw and faeces will enter into the solution. When the iodine gets low, empty it out, clean the bottle and refill it – rather than continually topping it up. This will reduce the risk of passing infection between lambs.

We have witnessed shortages of 10% iodine in recent years, if strong (10%) iodine is not available, lower concentration (<7%) is considered to be not as effective at drying and disinfecting navels.

Alternative navel dressings may include:

  • 4% chlorhexidine (hibiscrub), or a 50/50 mix 4% chlorhexidine and alcohol
    •  equivalent with 7% iodine
  • Vetericyn Super 7 Plus spray/dip
    • Less drying than iodine
    • No increased infection compared with 7% iodine
  •  70% alcohol
    • Drying
    • Disinfectant efficacy is not long lasting
  • Repiderma spray
    • Similar to 4% iodine for drying time and disinfectant properties

To prevent infection it is essential to ensure an adequate supply of quality colostrum within the first 2 hours of birth and that the surroundings are hygienic to prevent environmental challenge.
More information can be found at Planning for Lambing Amidst Iodine Shortage | Helping farmers in Scotland | Farm Advisory Service (

Kirsten Williams,

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