NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Basic question...  (Read 2495 times)


  • Joined Oct 2010
  • East Sussex
    • My Blog
Basic question...
« on: April 27, 2011, 10:04:10 pm » much do sheep drink??!!

Hello everyone,

My 3 orphan lambs are now turned out, still having 2 bottles a day between them of milk but all merrily eating grass and feed...

My question seems silly, it probably is but am curious and a bit green... My lambs have 3 accessible, fresh water troughs around their field. They are always barely touched. I know they drink water as I have tested them with it in their bottles but I expected the need to refresh their water daily from them drinking it but it seems they barely touch it...

Is this normal? What am I doing wrong?!!

Many thanks as always!
twitter - @southscouse
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Basic question...
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2011, 10:19:25 pm »
Sheep do drink water, yes.  How much?  How long is a piece of string?  And how can a sheep make a monkey out of their owner...? 

Sometimes they seem to get enough moisture from the grass that they eat; not sure where you are melholly but here we have had dewy mornings so the early morning grass is quite moist.  Usually but not always they will drink after eating cake.  Same applies after eating hay.  Lactating ewes certainly need plenty of water, I have found that ewes with lambs kept indoors on hay + cake may drink as much as a gallon straight down twice a day.  A newly lambed ewe will drink a couple of gallons - apparently the stuff she licks off the lambs is really salty!

And sometimes they like to laugh at us.  I carried three 10L water containersfull out to my 16 lambing shearlings + 4 tups the other day - the third hot day on the trot and this field has no trough - expecting them to drink all that down and have to go back for some more.  The blighters have still not drunk as much as one of those three containers.

With young lambs yes you must provide fresh clean cold water.  Keep changing it, they won't drink it if it's dirty, stale  and/or warm.  They need to start drinking fresh water (and not from a bottle, something to do with the route the fluid takes if the head is raised or dropped) to get their digestions to develop properly, and certainly need to be drinking water to get them to eat any amount of creep, which they need to be doing before you can wean them off the milk.
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined Oct 2010
  • East Sussex
    • My Blog
Re: Basic question...
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2011, 10:28:12 am »
Sally, thanks ever so much. Your reply was really informative and helpful. For the record Im down in the South East close to Lewes and though we've had cracking weather the grass has had plenty of dew on it first thing.

Sheep x camel I think!!

twitter - @southscouse


  • Joined Apr 2011
  • lymington hampshire
Re: Basic question...
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2011, 03:00:19 pm »
I think they will get a lot from the milk you feed them and any dew from the morning grass, also grass has a high quantity of water in it. My orphans are still in, but weaned off milk and are on course mix, they drink a bucket a day between four lambs


  • Joined Oct 2010
  • East Sussex
    • My Blog
Re: Basic question...
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2011, 03:38:40 pm »
Yes it's funny i have these 3 rogue orphanswho barely drink yet just bought 2 polled Dorset mums with lambs  and they've all drunk loads more!

Noticed 2 of my orphans have v dirty bums today - wonder if it's them gorging on so much lush pasture??

twitter - @southscouse


  • Joined Apr 2013
  • Worcestershire
    • Its Baaath Time
    • Facebook
Re: Basic question...
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2011, 04:59:46 pm »
I have to top our water bowl up a few times a day, I think part of that is lambs knocking it but also they drink during the time they are out. They always look so shocked when  they stick their noses in though, its like they think I've put creep in it but no, it is water LOL  ;D
We had some dirty bums first time these 6 hit the big paddock.
Smallholding in Worcestershire, making goats milk soap for and mum to 4 girls,  goats, sheep, chickens, dog, cat and garden snails...


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