The most useful piece of equipment we have to use at lambing time is a "lambing jug" with head gate. My husband built this from wood using a basic box structure. The corners are made with a square board such as a 1x1 used for reinforcement and plywood for sides, slats (with out gaps) for flooring and a 2 x 4 base to keep the whole unit slightly off the ground to keep the floor dry. Figure 1 shows the entire unit.
The solid walls prevent the lambs from falling out or being in a draft. A heat lamp can be attached near the ewes head for the lambs to lie under, which keeps them near her nose so that she gets used to them and can clean them.
Figure 2 shows the rear door partially lifted. It slides in a groove that keeps it snug at the rear of the pen. The back can be opened to allow cleaning of the pen with out removing or disturbing the ewe & lambs. The removal of the rear "gate" or door will allow easy entry of the ewe done either by placing lambs at the "head" of the box or pushing the ewe in from the back as required.
Figure 3 shows the head gate in the closed position with the back completely removed. This head gate is made with a frame going up either side of the box with a stabilizing bar across the top. The stabilizing bar has a hole cut to allow the head gate bars to be moved from side to side to allow the ewe's head to pass through and be locked into place. The head gate is made with one solid (unmoveable) upright "bar" and one "moveable bar" that is connected under the flooring with a bolt to allow it to move back and forth in the slot of the stabilizing bar across the top of the head gate.
Figure 4 shows the open position and the notched "locking bar" that holds the head gate in the required position to hold the sheep's head in place. This locking bar is made from a board with notches cut out and connected to the frame by using a bolt which allows easy movement. Although the sheep can lay down or stand without difficulty, she can not move forward or backwards.
Figure 5 shows a lamb with her head in the locked position ("Patience-because she hasn't any" easily moves into position and does not suffer any discomfort.) A pail of water can be offered in front of the ewe every hour or so (I do not leave the water in to prevent lambs from falling in or being drenched with water) and feed can be left at her head.
This unit works much better than trying to catch and position a lamb under a ewe that doesn't want to nurse. She can not move away and is easier to control if she tries to kick the lamb by simply holding her leg up for a few minutes. We have used this to graft lambs, for ewes that won't stand still or seem to prefer one lamb over the other. After only a few hours in the "jug" if the ewe appears to be cooperating, then we move her to a small pen nearby. If she does not feed her lambs, she is still close by and can be popped back into the jug. We have found that this is one of the most useful tools for lambing time we have.