Making More from Sheep Australian Wool Innovation Limited Meat & Livestock Australia
MODULE 10: Wean More Lambs
Tool 10.8
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The list below outlines the features and cause of death in new-born dead lambs. Use the list in conjunction with your veterinarian to determine the cause of death of new-born lambs.



Liveweight < 3.5 kg

At risk of exposure/hypothermia

Liveweight > 5.5 kg

At risk of dystocia (difficult birth)

Has birth stain been cleaned?

Mismothering or dead at birth

Pads still on feet

Hasn’t walked

Skin on neck and chest/back: bruising or teeth marks?

Bruising associated with teeth marks indicate predation to be the cause of death

Do lungs float in water?

If they float the lamb has breathed if they sink, the lamb died before birth

Milk clot in stomach

Lamb has suckled

Kidney fat red

Fat mobilised – lamb in nutritional deficit

Kidney fat white

Either dead at or soon after birth or lamb fed and lamb not under nutritional stress when died.

Swollen tongue, head, neck


Genetic malformation

Various features incompatible with life

Thyroid weight >0.4g/kg birth weight

Goitre iodine deficiency

The common features of lambs that have died of hunger/mismothering/hypothermia are light birth weight, red kidney fat, and no milk clots.