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Author Topic: Help! Advice on bottle feeding lambs with ewe with mastitis - updated new query  (Read 2863 times)

JFW67

  • Joined Apr 2020
  • Co. Derry
    • Valkyrie Craft: Handmade Canoes and Kayaks
Looking for advice on bottle feeding . . .

One of my ewes produced triplets.  One died on day two having gained no weight despite tubing her (I clearly acted too late) - couldnít work out why since she was feeding.
Of the two remaining another was not gaining weight so I started tubing her on day three, twice, trying to avoid interfering with the bond with the ewe.
The third lamb is doing fine.
Day four with little Improvement it finally dawned on me maybe the milk supply was an issue.  Checked the ewe properly and she clearly has mastitis.  I have intermammery antibiotics into the udder, a five day course of injected antibiotics and an anti inflammatory/ pain killer prescribed by my vet.  Hopefully she will be okay.

The vet advises keeping an eye on the healthy lamb to see he remains in good condition but that the smaller one will need feeding.  Bottle better than tubing to avoid issues with potential harm from the tube.  He also advises trying to ensure the smaller also feeds from the mum to maintain the bond.

So . . .  What I am after is advice on how to bottle feed top up in a manner that will do this.

I have never had to bottle feed at this stage. (40 lambs over three years and this is both the first year I have lost a lamb and the first year I am going to have to bottle feed.  Its also the first time Iíve had triplets and have two sets!).

Any help gratefully received.

John

« Last Edit: April 14, 2024, 09:00:29 am by JFW67 »
Mistakes teach best.  😳🙄😉

messyhoose

  • Joined Nov 2017
hi ive bottle fed all my rescues and worked on sheep dairies where lambs taken after day one (for colostrum intake). Do you really mean "ad lib" feeding? This is what is done at the dairy (ie large scale feeding in age groups)- with a machine that mixes powder so that cool milk is available when ever the lamb sucks the rubber teats. They take smaller feeds and so less likelt to get bloat.
My lot were bottle fed and so not ad lb: feeding every few hours for first week then increasing the time between feeds to lessen the number of feeds whie increasing the amount fed at each feed (for commercial breeds the lamb milk bags have advisory charts on the back for an appropriate timetable- i had to adapt as have tiny primitives)
If you keep the lamb with mom its not impossible to just feed one but most normal that both would need supplementing if moms milk is the issue. Its easier if mom is penned for a few days so the lambs learn you are an alternative milk supply. (i had to feed 2 lambs with mom loose and for the first week had to chase and catch them each feed til they got used to the whole idea- after that i just had to walk into field pointing the bottles at them and theyd run up, drink, then run back to mom again) I only fed them 2 x a day- they got the rest from mom. If you are expecting the natural milk supply to come back you dont want to make them too reliant on you but you do need to keep an eye out for a "very hungry lamb" which suggests mom is giving them nothing (hunched, bleating, hollow sides)
If on the other hand you have 2 sets of triplets you could leave mastitis mom with one lamb, take the sicker one and one from the other triplet family as bottle lambs- raised in pairs is easier and better for their welbeing.

JFW67

  • Joined Apr 2020
  • Co. Derry
    • Valkyrie Craft: Handmade Canoes and Kayaks
Hello Messyhoose,

Thank you for your reply.  I clearly miss understood the ad lib term!

Your information is very useful.  The ewe is currently still penned since I need to give her antibiotics for the next four days and donít fancy having to chase her about - sheís less fond of me just t the moment!  This means at least four days to get the lamb/s used to bottle feeding.

Iím thinking only the smaller is of concern.  The bigger one heads for a drink every time the smaller has a go and often just pushes her off.

The other triplets are doing fine and Iím wary of making a problem for myself by meddling.

Iím struggling to get the lamb to drink from a bottle as yet!

Thank you again.

John
Mistakes teach best.  😳🙄😉

messyhoose

  • Joined Nov 2017
Re: Help! Advice on bottle feeding lambs with ewe with mastitis.
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2024, 03:05:08 pm »
there are various tricks farmers will swear by, re bottling a lamb. Id suggest try not to get too aggitated: it can be frustrating when all you are doing it trying to help them and they just clamo on the teat and wont suck!
I had one wildy i found abandoned and she wouldnt drink for a few days, then just as i was getting desperate i introduced her to my other sheep and she immediately wanted to suckle- so i grabbed her and put the rubber teat in her mouth and presto!
I would suggest (if you havent already) tried bottling in a natural position, ie lamb stood up not lying in your lap, using your arms or hands to partially cover the eyes to emulate the "under the back legs" feeling. I tend to find that works if the lamb is between your legs and facing away from you. Make sure milk isnt cold or too hot (blood temp is right) dont be encouraged to widen the teat hole as if not sucking they will choke, but you can squeeze the teat sides whn it is in the lambs mouth to squirt some drops in, also tickling the throat to encourage swallowing, and finally rubbing their bum (mom would sniff their bum when suckling to make sure its their baby back there.
Another trick if they are clamping on is to try pulling the teat slowly out their mouth.....
good luck and keep perservering, im sure you will all make it just fine in the end! :)

JFW67

  • Joined Apr 2020
  • Co. Derry
    • Valkyrie Craft: Handmade Canoes and Kayaks
Re: Help! Advice on bottle feeding lambs with ewe with mastitis.
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2024, 08:59:13 am »
Iím pretty close to giving up on trying to feed the lamb.  Itís now 11 days old and we have not managed to get her to take more than 20 or 30 mls herself.   She will feed but takes very little and is quickly keen to get away.  Iím using a Pritchard teat and have tried it with three different sized holes and a small slice lengthways down the teat.

 I have resorted to tube feeding her 60mls the last few days in the evening so that she is getting something.  Last night catching her to tube feed was not that easy - sheís not at deaths door but is always a little hunched with tail down. (Photo attached). She spends a lot of time resting but is up and active and keen to feed of mum.

She is gaining weight very slowly, and now at 3.4kg is half the size of her twin.  They are still in a separate pen to keep the ewe from the rest of the flock because she had mastitis, treated 8 days ago.

So Iím wondering:
Should I persevere with trying to feed the lamb - I keep them more to manage field grass than to earn so a small sheep is not an issue.
Should I now allow the trio back in with the main flock

Advice?




Mistakes teach best.  😳🙄😉

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Itís probably snatching something from mum; enough to make it not want a bottle, not enough to thrive. I had one last year the same, took it away and put in the pet pen, it went on fine once it realised powdered milk was the only option.


If the ewe is well in herself and not oozing anything from the affected quarter you could put her back with the rest, but Iíd put her back with 1 lamb and lift the lamb thatís struggling. And cull the ewe after weaning.

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
As twizzel says put the ewe out with the strong lamb , it will force out the small one .The lamb is very hungry from its hunched stance , I have 5 lambs to feed and all take only 5oml max from the bottle the rest goes down a tube , one is smaller than yours and gets 250ml 3x per day .  You just keep persevering and then one day they drink a whole bottle . Update 11 lambs now and 1 5day.old just took a whole bottle  :excited:  little wins :trophy:
« Last Edit: April 15, 2024, 03:59:13 pm by shep53 »

messyhoose

  • Joined Nov 2017
i am sorry you are still struggling, must be keeping you awake at night, i know the feeling!
there are a few things you could try: the lamb is old enough that you could try to isolate her from mom for a few days  (ie so not getting anything from mom) to see if that convinces her that bottled milk is actually quite nice. What i mean by old enough is that if this works, (or indeed doesnt work) you can still return her to mom without her being rejected, and hopefully feed off both bottle and mom.

I was offered a week old lamb to keep a rescue company but she point blank refused to drink from the bottle and after a week i said to the owner - help im starving her to death. The owner took her back and the lambs mom took her back (they only let ewes keep one lamb here, but this ewe eneded up rearing the 2 that year)

or:
You could pen the lambs next to mom for 12 hours then let the smaller one get to feed off mom first- that way she gets the lions share instead of the older sibling. Once she gets stronger she will be able to compete with her sibling better. Lambs with restricted milk will tend to wean themselves faster so you may need to make sure they have access to grass/ so they can start nibbling and getting their rumen to mature sooner. I think the youngest i i heard was 3 week lamb, it was very tiny compared to milk fed ones but did survive.

or:
Does anyone nearby have a ewe whose newborn lamb has died and needs a lamb to call her own? Some places have FB pages for farmers to ask for/or offer lambs for this purpose. Your lamb sounds like it is one of those "moms teat is best" types and would prob (with help at first ) drink fine off another milky ewe, but it needs to be a recently lambed ewe or she will be harder to persuade to take the interloper.

messyhoose

  • Joined Nov 2017
my local farming FB group had this same question last night and someone responded with - give the lamb a Vit E tablet.
It apparently worked and a bit of searching online shows it is often used in lambs with a poor suck response (although usually given by injection)

just incase anyone else having bottlefeeding issues wants to try that....

 

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