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Author Topic: Rejected lamb in pen on its own - is this ok?  (Read 3888 times)

Tina Turkey

  • Joined Oct 2007
Rejected lamb in pen on its own - is this ok?
« on: September 20, 2010, 09:14:16 pm »
Evening all, we have a week old lamb that was rejected by its mum - she kept the one twin but not this one - I am not experienced enough to know why and neither was I able to force her to bond with it although I did make a lame attempt at this!  Anyway result is the little lamb is in a pen on her own indoors and doing very well (she had colostrum on first day etc and is wolfing down her bottles).  I am taking her out a couple of times a day for a walk around and she follows me as I am doing the other animal chores but she is spending the majority of the day/night on her own in her pen.

Being a softy, it is really stressing me out to see her on her own - its not natural and I dont like it BUT what could I do or should I just stop worrying?  Ive walked her  up to our little flock and she shows no interest in them nor they in her.  SHould I try to bring in another sheep to try and keep her company (we have some female lambs from February which I thought I could try, one of which I topped up with a bottle as her mum had mastitis).  Or should I just keep as I am doing and will she join them when she is weaned?  She is destined for the abbatoir anyway.

Thanks v much.
Voss Electric Fence

old dad

  • Joined May 2010
Re: Rejected lamb in pen on its own - is this ok?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2010, 09:46:56 pm »
hi tina thought i would reply as no one else is. if the lamb is happy and feeding well carry on as you are just make sure she is warm enough at night as it's getting colder (he says sat y the roaring woodburner) she will mix when she is ready. keep up the good work!


  • Joined Aug 2010
    • The World is My Lobster
Re: Rejected lamb in pen on its own - is this ok?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2010, 09:56:46 pm »
Hi there - I expect you remember the rhyme "Mary had a little lamb" and also remember that everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go, even to school.  

That is what happens with bottle fed lambs, especially ones on their own, also the more you walk around with it the harder you are going to find it when it has to go to the abattoir.  Sheep are not always the brightest of creatures, but they do definitely have a personality, and if you are that much of a softie that you don't want to leave it in a pen I suspect it is going to live a long and happy life.  At least it is a girl, so you will get some lambs.

If it happens another time the trick is to keep making sure it gets its mothers milk, or whatever mother you are intending to foist it on, and when it comes out the back end she will normally accept it.  That is why young lambs feed with their bums towards mum's head, and why she will sniff their backsides to verify they are hers.  

As an aside you sometimes get what are called super lambs, which grow extra quick,  They are generally boys who have learnt to rush to any sheep calling out "tea time" and snatch a few mouthfuls before she realizes its not hers.  They will generally feed from behind the sheep so she cant sniff their bums.  Fascinating isn't it :)

I think there's not much point getting in the other sheep as sheep are much better outside eating grass.  If another cade lamb comes along - then go for it, and as you say it will be company.

All the best
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  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Rejected lamb in pen on its own - is this ok?
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2010, 12:44:27 am »
Another trick with a rejected lamb is to rub the mothers milk all over it.  However, given that you didn't manage to get the mother to accept it (it can be intensely frustrating trying to make sheep do something they don't want to ) I would have put it in a pen where it could see, hear and smell it's dam and twin and they could do the same for it, but with mesh so that its dam would not be able to butt it.  That way, when they eventually go outside the bottle lamb will have a family to stay near, but can come to you for milk.  Once they are outside and not confined the dam is likely to accept the lamb without attacking it, although she will not let it feed.
Now, I would not put an older lamb with the little one as it will get butted, but once it is a little older I would let it live outside with the other lambs so that it is a member of the group. Start off just letting it out during the day but inside at night.  It will still come to you for its bottle but will not become a big smelly annoying pet lamb which wants to live indoors with you and bawls loudly outside the kitchen window until you give in and give it another bottle  ;D. Unfortunately cute little pet lambs which follow you everywhere quickly become a nuisance once they grow up a bit, especially when there is only one.  Now that you have got this far, it will be interesting to see what happens  :) but i think that making sure it knows it's a sheep and not a human is important.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

Tina Turkey

  • Joined Oct 2007
Re: Rejected lamb in pen on its own - is this ok?
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2010, 05:10:19 am »
Thanks all.

At what age should I think about putting it outside in the daytime with the others?  And what about weaning?  Ive seen between 5 and 12 weeks as the time to do it - which is a big difference!

Thanks again


  • Joined Aug 2010
  • swindon
Re: Rejected lamb in pen on its own - is this ok?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2010, 11:00:48 am »
5-12 wks is starting at 5 weeks and by the time  of 12 weeks should be off lamb feed so its not as bad as it seams as it takes time to wean


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