Iodine applicators for small heritage sheep: a DIY solution

Nothing we do to keep our sheep healthy is as basic and simple as putting iodine on every newborn Soay lamb’s navel. Just when the poor newborn is staggering around trying to figure out where on earth that udder and nipple are that it so urgently needs to find, the lamb’s moist umbilical is dragging through whatever sheep poop, straw, dirt, and other bacteria sources inevitably come its way. A single application of iodine during the lamb’s first few hours goes a long way to preventing infection through the cord pathway.

Commercial iodine applicator,way too big for small heritage sheep!

Commercial iodine applicator, way too big for small heritage sheep

The first couple of years we tried to apply the iodine with a standard sheep applicator. In fact, it is still be shown on our farm website, shame on us. Then Steve came up with a slick Soay-sized applicator made from scraps of 1″ PVC pipe with a dab or two of blue pipe glue to hold it together.

Steve Weaver's Handy Dandy Iodine Applicator

Steve’s Handy Dandy Soay Lamb Iodine Applicator

It is just the right size for heritage lambs. We’ve been using the same homemade applicator for many years and it shows no signs of wear and tear. I commend it to you!

I know nothing about pipe-fittings and connecting elbows and joints of PVC, not in my skill set. But I do know the trick is to have a vertical pipe with the bottom end closed and a right angle fitting at the top. That’s what makes the applicator so useful; you tip it over to apply the iodine and then simply tip it back up to keep the unused iodine for another day. You will need something to put the applicator in to store it upright when you’re done. A tall thin can from canned beans, or an old coffee mug, anything that won’t tip over. If it tips over, the iodine spills, obviously, and just your luck it will spill on your jeans and then whoever does laundry at your house will be crabby.

Somewhere back in the archives of this ancient blog there is a post, or maybe even a video, about how to apply the iodine. Since I have a brand new set of pictures, here is a quick refresher.

Fill the applicator about half full of fresh iodine, available at your local farm store. Buy the strongest iodine you can get. And then have at it.

Questions about dimensions of the pipe parts and elbow? Give us a call. Happy lambing!

For now …

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