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Author Topic: Topping up lambs  (Read 1872 times)

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Topping up lambs
« on: May 25, 2024, 08:23:20 am »
So, the ewe who gave birth to twins Monday seems to only be feeding them from one side. They try the other side but then turn away as if they are not getting anything. So they are competing for one teat. Not gaining much weight but still have energy to bounce about. So must be getting just enough to get by. The ewe lets them try and suckle from the side that doesn't appear to be producing milk so it's (to my mind) not uncomfortable for her, but I shall still call the vet on Tuesday (I have forgotten it's a bank holiday). Going to try and catch her later and see if it's just a blocked teat but I do realise it could be the start of mastitis. The ewe in herself appears well and has a good appetite. I am also going to buy some Lamlac this morning and try and top up the lambs in the field.
Any other suggestions?

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2024, 08:47:49 am »
Catch the ewe and  turn her over , then feel the good teat with your thumb and finger it will.be soft for the full length  and when squeezed will produce milk   , now try the teat they can't suck if your lucky then it maybe just a wax plug in the teat opening which you can force out with milk from behind the plug . If you are unlucky then the teat will.feel like there is a stick inside it , this is an old infection totally blocked , their maybe no milk in the quarter at all just old damaged tissue .  If the quarter is hard and swollen /hot / very dark pink and the milk is watery with lumps then this is a new infection and needs a VET NOW

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2024, 08:49:33 am »
Bring the ewe and lambs in to a pen, if itís mastitis she needs antibiotics and pain relief from the vet today, this cannot wait until Tuesday. Either try to top both lambs up or my preference would be take a lamb away and leave her with 1 lamb to rear. Rear the other one on the bottle or sell it. Donít breed from her again.

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2024, 09:25:22 am »
Thank you both for your advice. Aiming to catch ewe shortly when I have an extra pair of hands to help.

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2024, 12:58:34 pm »
The vet has been and diagnosed beginnings of mastitis. Gave antibiotic and anti inflammatory. Advised trying to strip milk from engorged side (he got a bit out and it was normal, not lumpy) and hopefully once medication kicks in the ewe will allow more suckling. If lambs still only feeding from one side tomorrow then to start bottle top ups.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2024, 04:30:53 pm »
Great spot, and well done for getting the vet promptly.  :fc: antibiotics will work and she'll be able to feed the lambs.  Don't overfill them if you bottle them - it'll help her clear the infection if they keep stripping her out, so keep them a little bit hungry until the infection is gone.  If they're still going short after that, then keep topping them up.  (You'll be able to do it in the field as they'll be running to you for their bottle by then.)
« Last Edit: May 25, 2024, 08:20:04 pm by SallyintNorth »
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2024, 05:43:56 pm »
Well done by Tuesday she may have been.dead :thumbsup:

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2024, 08:35:51 am »
Once again, thanks for the advice. Very grateful to this forum for helping me in areas where I lack knowledge/experience.

The lambs still look hungry this morning even though the ewe is allowing them to suckle both sides. They just seem to be giving up easily on the engorged side. After a quick suck with what looks like no result they then run round to the other teat where they spend longer. I think I will start on top ups later today just to ensure they are getting a bit more. They are bouncing about well enough but just look skinny.

Bywaters

  • Joined Apr 2016
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2024, 10:33:30 am »
If the one side is engorged, it will need stripping off (ie hand milking until not engorged) otherwise bacteria will build up and you will be in the same boat

Not asey on your onw, but maybe make a halter and tie her up while you milk her

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2024, 08:43:45 am »
So, we have started top ups in the field. Not easy. The ewe is very wary of us from being caught up for injections, udder stripping etc and will no longer come into the hurdle pen which is making it hard to get hold of the lambs. Fortunately the ewe seems a lot better. The "bad" side of the udder has shrunk considerably and we can't get any more milk from it. The lambs are still competing for the "good" side and seem to be getting equal turns at it - I have been watching. The lambs are distinctively marked and easy to tell apart even from a distance. We are calling them Skinny and Fatty, although there's not much between them. Skinny is quite tricky to catch. Fatty on the other hand will approach us and this morning decided to help herself to her bottle (of course tipping it over) while I was trying to catch Skinny.  Just wondering what other people do? I'm guessing with "normal" bottle feeding the human is the only source of food so lambs come readily but it's tricky when they are running round a field with their mum.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2024, 12:22:23 pm »
Glad to hear the ewe is improving in herself, that will help the milk supply.

When topping up a sibling group, I tend to think in terms of how much milk I need to put in to leave the mother a manageable amount of work, rather than worrying about do I give all lambs an equal top-up. So for instance, if it's triplets I'd like them to be getting 3L a day between them, a healthy ewe with a healthy udder on good grass should have no trouble producing 2L, so I'd like to get a litre into the lambs between them.  Quite often, one of the triplets doesn't take to the bottle, so the other two get the bottles between them, and the third only drinks from mum.  Frequently it ends up with one lamb apparently getting most of its feed from the bottle, and the middle lamb drinking a bit now and again, but not always taking any.

Your ewe may well be able to produce enough for two in her one good quarter once she's fully fit again, and if she's over the infection now you can probably assume she's producing at least enough for one already.  So I'd be looking to see if the lambs will take a litre a day between them, and only worry if it's less if either lamb starts to look actually skinny. 

Never over-fill a lamb, they don't know when to stop and it's incredibly dangerous to have the milk overflow into the rumen, but apart from that, I'd feed Fatty what he'll take and just give some to Skinny if you can.  Personally I would keep having a go at catching Skinny and feeding him for the moment, they sometimes get keener on the bottle later on as they need more. 

As Fatty is coming to you now, I'd feed him first; you might find that the sibling bond, curiosity and lack of pressure will bring Skinny closer and give you an opportunity to catch them both in the pen while you feed Fatty.

(To not overfill a lamb, I look down on the lamb as it stands feeding, and watch the flanks behind the ribs.  As soon as it starts to be convex there, I stop.  I'd rather underfeed at a feed than give too much, there'll be another feed later, and they'll get some from Mum in between times too.  If necessary to give enough overall, I'd increase the number of feeds rather than risk overfilling.)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2024, 01:55:00 pm »
Thanks Sally. I don't think they are in danger of over-filling. More that they are not having enough although they're clearly not starving as they have plenty of energy and are behaving as little lambs should, with lots of running/leaping around. I shall certainly try the "sitting and waiting for them to approach" trick. They obviously take their cue from mum and at the moment she is very wary.

Typically the lambs in the other field who've never seen a bottle in their life will come to our call for a cuddle and fuss, no food incentive needed. I guess that's sheep eh?

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2024, 10:13:45 pm »
I'm quite surprised actually.  Usually after they've been topped up for a couple of days indoors while Mum got sorted, they're running to you shouting (whether they see the bottle or not  ::)), and that transfers to the field without problem, especially if you teach them a "bottle's here" call. 

We sometimes use a pen-within-a-pen setup for wary mums with littles that need something doing.  Big outer  pen, smaller pen (eg just a hurdle across the corner) well inside, where the lambs can be held while getting sorted.  Bucket of something nice, or a scatter of something nice, for the ewe. Get them all in the big pen, then while mum is eating take a lamb into the small pen, sort it, swap for 2nd lamb, sort that, bit more treats for mum, put 'em all out.  Do not catch or handle the ewe, so she builds confidence that she won't be messed with, it's all about getting a feed.  Try to not have lambs screaming for mum, and if they need catching, try to do it swiftly and quietly so there isn't a lot of panic and adrenaline for the ewe to avoid repeating.  (Eg., use your body and your crook to quietly steer the lambs behind the hurdle, then swing it shut, rather than chasing them about the larger pen trying to catch them round the neck with your crook, or by the leg.)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2024, 08:42:04 am »
Thanks. I think the lack of success is down to a combination of things really. The ewe is wary, the lambs are lively and would still prefer to suckle from mum than a bottle. Mum gives little bleats constantly while we are trying to tempt the lambs and they immediately run over to her. It's also been abysmal weather, pretty much pouring without let up so not ideal for patiently trying to feed lambs. We'll keep plodding on.

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Topping up lambs
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2024, 06:13:50 pm »
Well, I think we might have turned a corner .....
We had virtually no success feeding either lamb from the bottle, and it became increasingly obvious that Fatty was getting the lion's share from the ewe as she put on weight and Skinny stayed skinny. After much worrying about what to do with Skinny we tried taking her out of the field (and out of sight of mum) to try and feed her. After much bleating initially but not getting any response from the ewe she suddenly took an interest in the bottle and has been gulping it down enthusiastically ever since.

 

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