The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Community => Coffee Lounge => Topic started by: GGFrance on May 06, 2022, 07:04:42 am

Title: Bottle fed lamb "issues"
Post by: GGFrance on May 06, 2022, 07:04:42 am
Hi all, I know that some topics here have covered some of this but.. We have a 5 week old lamb who was rejected by her mum so we bottle fed her.  Unfortunately we do not have a barn so she had to come in to our house.  All has gone very well and she is a physically fit little lamb! 
Our problem is that we need to re-introduce here to the flock but this is not going so well!  When we put her in to the field she completely ignores the other sheep and paces up and down the fence line and is obviously distressed, crying all the time.  Any ideas how we can make this easier for her!?  All our animals are pets (sheep, goats, alpacas etc).  Many thanks in advance
Title: Re: Bottle fed lamb "issues"
Post by: SallyintNorth on May 13, 2022, 03:27:35 pm
Apologies, have only just seen your post.

You may need to pen her in a smallish pen with other orphan lambs, in order for her to make some connections with other sheep before being put into a larger area with sheep who already have relationships in the flock. 

Title: Re: Bottle fed lamb "issues"
Post by: Backinwellies on May 13, 2022, 03:35:13 pm
She does not see herself as a sheep.  This is going to take time.  and not a little stress!  Easier to rehome somewhere where there are more orphans
Title: Re: Bottle fed lamb "issues"
Post by: GGFrance on May 13, 2022, 06:17:58 pm
Hi, no question of re-homing her, she is our pet!! No other orphan lambs either.  She is getting there slowly but it will take time.  I just donít want to see her distressed at all. 
Title: Re: Bottle fed lamb "issues"
Post by: SallyintNorth on May 13, 2022, 07:10:53 pm
Hi, no question of re-homing her, she is our pet!! No other orphan lambs either.  She is getting there slowly but it will take time.  I just donít want to see her distressed at all.

I am going to be blunt.  She is a sheep but doesn't know it, she thinks you are her flock.  If you do not want her to be distressed, you need to either keep her as a house pet, or get her with some other orphan lambs in a smallish pen to learn to be a sheep and make some friends.  Doing what you are doing is putting your needs before hers.

You could buy (or possibly borrow) some orphan lambs to be her friends, and once this lamb is integrated back into your flock, find the other lambs other homes, or keep them, or eat them, or return them if you've managed to borrow some.

Or, this lamb would be happier sent to a local farmer to run with his or her orphan lambs.  That might not be your preference, but it would be hers. 
Title: Re: Bottle fed lamb "issues"
Post by: Fleecewife on May 13, 2022, 11:37:43 pm
I am so pleased we managed to get our bottle lamb's real mother to accept her as hers, even though she doesn't feed her.  It means she has a mother and a sister in the flock, she lives in the flock, although she runs to us for milk.  I had the advantage of knowing we could not cope with a lamb that thought she was a human, so we planned from the start to prevent that.


You didn't have that knowledge so now there's a problem to sort out.  I'm wondering if this could work: go into the field with the lamb, play with her in there, feed her in there and the other lambs will come over to see her, all lambs being so nosey.  If she sees you interacting with the lambs and ewes she might start to do so as well. You are her parent, so if you think these sheep things are worth spending time with then maybe she will believe you  :)  If you go in a bit before the lambs' "mad gang whacky races" in the evenings then she may well start to join in with them and make friends. You would need to take her into the flock each day several times a day and at some point she would need to stay in with the flock overnight, not in the house. It would take a lot of your time, but that's what happens with pets. You could take a book or some work and just be there as a reassuring presence while the lamb gets used to her new companions.  It's not a very shepherdy thing to do but it could be worth a try do you think @GGFrance  ?


With our lamb at bottle time it's interesting to watch the rest of the flock and their reactions. The dam watches carefully and will sometimes still walk across towards us when Lark is  feeding, seeming to make sure we do it properly and her daughter is fed. A couple of other ewes will come across to see the bottle and to watch Lark drinking.  But the whole flock watches and pauses what they are doing while Lark feeds. So sheep can accept this difference and seem to understand that this is how Lark feeds. They also accept me on my scoot as long as I'm wielding a bottle, whereas the rest of the time I use it for rounding them up! I am sure that after a few weeks of you being in the field with her and them they will understand and accept your lamb into the flock. You might be the one to be upset when your lamb no longer needs you because she has joined the flock as a sheep  :hugsheep:


I hope there are some ideas in here to help you.
Title: Re: Bottle fed lamb "issues"
Post by: GGFrance on May 14, 2022, 08:03:09 am
thanks all for your help and advice.  I will always put her health and well-being first.  I do spend a lot of time with her (and the other animals).  I am going to create a small area in our field and encourage her mum in with her (with me).  Hopefully this will settle her down.  Many thanks @Fleecewife for your advice.  Until she is fully accepting of the flock, and they of her, I will not be leaving her overnight.  Things are getting better but strangely towards the end of the day when I have seen her play with another young lamb.  Hopefully a good sign.. 
Title: Re: Bottle fed lamb "issues"
Post by: SallyintNorth on May 14, 2022, 09:05:22 am
I have seen her play with another young lamb.  Hopefully a good sign..

That is very encouraging.  Sounds like it is beginning to work :fc:
Title: Re: Bottle fed lamb "issues"
Post by: doganjo on May 15, 2022, 06:27:40 pm
thanks all for your help and advice.  I will always put her health and well-being first.  I do spend a lot of time with her (and the other animals).  I am going to create a small area in our field and encourage her mum in with her (with me).  Hopefully this will settle her down.  Many thanks @Fleecewife for your advice.  Until she is fully accepting of the flock, and they of her, I will not be leaving her overnight.  Things are getting better but strangely towards the end of the day when I have seen her play with another young lamb.  Hopefully a good sign..
Does she have to be in the house?  Could you set up a sort pf outdoor 'kennel' for her and the other lamb she seems to be friendly with?  You could see them say every hour in an evening so she knows you're there but not so far away in the field
Title: Re: Bottle fed lamb "issues"
Post by: Fleecewife on May 15, 2022, 09:14:39 pm
You couldn't take the other lamb away from it's ma for the whole night - very stressful all round. But I agree that @GGFrance  could be storing up trouble for the future.  Big smelly woolly sheep are less welcome in the house than cute lambs  :eyelashes: .  It is a problem which is hard to resolve without other orphans being available.