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Home >  Blog >  The Farm Co Guide to Rearing Pet and Orphan Lambs

The Farm Co Guide to Rearing Pet and Orphan Lambs

Posted by Amanda Walker on 16 May 2017
The Farm Co Guide to Rearing Pet and Orphan Lambs

I've found a new born lamb! What do I do?

Provided there is no mother in sight and you want to hand raise the lamb

  • If the lamb is new born- it needs colostrum either by bottle or stomach tube if it can't suck

  • If the lamb is more than 24hrs old- you can start giving milk replacer straight away

  • Keep the lamb warm and dry it, if it is wet

Colostrum

  • Lambs require colostrum within the first 24 hours of life. It provides immunity, acts as a laxative and is a concentrated nutrient and energy source

  • Usually about 200ml of colostrum within the first day of life is needed but we would recommend feeding only 50ml at each feed

  • Lambs that don't receive colostrum usually have a high death rate or become weak lambs which are very susceptible to disease and hypothermia

  • Ideally ewe colostrum should be given so, if possible, catch a ewe and attempt to milk or suckle the lamb. Colostrum can also be frozen and thawed in a water bath when needed

 

 

I don't have any ewe colostrum available!

If no colostrum is available this recipe can be used

  • 700ml cow's milk

  • 1 beaten egg yolk

  • 5ml cod liver oil

  • 15g dextrose powder

Lambs can't digest sucrose (table sugar) so this can't be used

What milk replacer should I feed?

Options are as follows::

  • Cow's milk plus full cream milk powder- 70g powdered milk made up to 1L with cow's milk gives a formula similar to ewe's milk

  • Full cream milk powder alone- make according to instructions

  • Ewe milk substitutes such as Profalac 

Personally I would recommend a powdered milk option for rearing individual lambs as the cost is more easily managed. For rearing multiple lambs, ewe milk replacers are likely more beneficial. Cow's milk should not be fed on its own or 'watered' down.

How often should I feed a lamb?

Quantity and Frequency of Feeding


Age Amt per Feed (ml) Feeds per Day Total per Day
1 Days  Feed Colostrum   at least 200ml
2 - 7 Days 100 - 150  5 500 -700ml
1 - 2 Weeks 180 - 250 4 720ml - 1L 
2 - 3 Weeks 360 - 500 3 1 - 1.5L
3 - 4 Weeks 500 - 700 3 1.5 -2L
4 - 5 Weeks 750 - 1000 2 1.5 -2L

 

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  • A rough guide to feeding is to administer about 10% of the lamb's body weight per day in milk.

  • The temperature of the milk does not matter (usually cold is best), but if the lamb is hypothermic then the milk should be warm.

  • Also provide ad lib water.

    feeding lamby luke

Also note:

  • small and weak lambs need smaller volume, more frequent feeds (conversely, big buffy lambs will probably demand larger more frequent feeds!) 

  • Usually 50ml/kg body weight is needed at every feed. 3-4 feeds a day depending on age.

  • Milk should be warmed but can be given cool

  • Lambs can started on concentrates from 4 weeks of age and weaned if necessary from 6-8 weeks.

Rearing lambs can be a great experience, especially for young children. They make the most beautiful pets. However, a word of warning....as we found out last winter, they are prone to just 'dying off' for no apparent reason. Unfortunately, some abandoned lambs just can't be saved.

If you have doubts about the health of your lambs please consult your local veterinarian for advice. Good Luck!!

 

Author: Amanda Walker
About: Amanda Walker is the Director of The Farm Co and Yerecoin Traders. Amanda has extensive experience in animal health, working for a number of years with the Institute for Animal Health in the UK. Amanda also worked for a UK government response team during the Foot and Mouth outbreak back in in 2001. Amanda has a keen interest in sheep and livestock health, working with her local grower to help manage their parasite control throughout the seasons.
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Tags: Animal Health General Farm Lamb Care Sheep Small Farm Management

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