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Author Topic: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?  (Read 8427 times)

abbaye

  • Joined Feb 2014
Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« on: February 04, 2014, 02:46:08 pm »
Hi folks, I have 6 ewes indoors for lambing - 2 lambed already, the first one had twins and rejected the female lamb immediately.  I put her into a grafting pen (front panel with bales of straw around) she has been in there from Saturday morning until today Tuesday.  When I have done this before its worked a treat but this time his hasnt - it looks like she still wont accept the little female who is now 3 days old and looking good and healthy.

I have just given the female a bottle and she has settled down for a snooze in amongst them all.  Still got 4 ewes to lamb and they are imminent. 

My question is, should I leave the lamb in with them all and keep giving her bottles myself or should I take her away completely and put her under a lamb away from them all?

I have had a small amoutnof experience of bottle completely hand reared lambs and also a situation whereby mum didnt have enough milk for her triplets and I went out to field and topped up the lamb for months and let her go back to mum (that lamb is now, several years on, our matriarch!), but I found it very hard just hand rearing - time consuming and the lamb stayed away from flock completely, always being at the farm gate waiting for us thus she was vulnerable and sadly a hunters dog killed her and I couldnt bear to go through that again so anything I can do to keep this little lamb with the group would be good.
Thanks - all advice gratefully received!
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Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2014, 02:55:11 pm »
Leave her in, and continue to top up with the bottle.  No point separating just one lamb, she will do better in the company of others - she'll be less prone to following you around and will consider the flock as her family.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2014, 03:20:11 pm »
As foobar says.  I would let her get a bit hungry before giving her a bottle just to check that she doesn't eventually feed without it.  I have found that sometimes lambs I've thought weren't sucking, in fact were, just when no-one was around to embarrass them.
I would also keep them all in for longer to give the lamb a greater chance of survival and the dam a better chance to change her mind and suckle the ewe lamb.
What methods did you use to get the mother to adopt the ewe lamb?  How has she disowned her?  If she's head butting the ewe lamb and her life is endangered then you need to change tactics.  The ewe can be put in a head restraint or otherwise tied up, and a creep section made in her pen where the lambs can lie out of her way.  For getting a ewe to accept a lamb, the best way I have found is to milk a handful of milk from her then rub it over the lamb's head and bottom.  This makes the lamb smell familiar - with bottle feeding, she isn't going to be smelling of the dam so will automatically be rejected.
If you sit the ewe on her bum and express a bit of milk, then latch on the lamb with the ewe in that position, when she's hungry, the smell of the dam's milk will go through her, and she will get used to sucking from a teat instead of a bottle (different technique)

Other folk will have some other ideas for you.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 03:21:49 pm by Fleecewife »
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NLL

  • Joined Apr 2010
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2014, 03:38:46 pm »
put the ewe back in the adopter with safe sides for the lambs.we had one last year who didn't want her lamb to start with, then was fine after a week in the adopter.Six weeks later she rejected then again so she went back inside into the adopter for a week and was fine after that.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2014, 04:29:54 pm »
I have had a ewe who spooked at the arrival of her lambs - every year! So I had to have the lambs in a pen next to her (she could sniff them but not butt) and then I restrained the ewe and put the lambs on to feed (Labour intensive and you need to be able to hold the ewe with your legs and have the hands free to handle the lamb for the first couple of days). It took a good week to get her to shout for lambs, but she was a really good mother afterwards. She then did exactly the same the next two years, even though I did not assist in the delivery and kept well out of the way (but observed).

I would persevere for a few more days - it does save a lot of work (and Lamlac) in the long run!

firther

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • holmfirth, west yorkshire
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2014, 06:55:09 pm »
they sometimes do take quite a while, in past we've let mother and lambs out into a field or run of shed and brought dogs out. Sometimes works

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2014, 07:09:06 pm »
Be really certain the lamb isn't sucking - especially if it isn't hollow when you leave it alone.


If it definitley isn't - take it off.  Cull the ewe ASAP. As other posts have shown - once a crap mother, always a crap mother and you do not want a sheep like that in your flock - especially for the welfare of the lambs it has rejected. Do you think those lambs have had a start in life that is as stress free as possible?


It amazes me the people that want to hold onto a rubbish ewe, in spite of the misery it inflicts on its lambs year in year out.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 07:11:13 pm by SteveHants »

Hillview Farm

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Surrey
  • Proud owner of sheep and Llamas!
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2014, 08:06:04 pm »
I agree Steve! I had a lamb rejected for a few days last lambing and it was heartbreaking to watch this poor lamb being battered! Not good for lamb, you or winding the ewe up too

langfauld easycare

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2014, 08:17:41 pm »
 :wave: i agree with steve to . i would also sell or eat the ewe lamb (when it bigger) ;) . i mark ewe lambs at lambing time to keep as replacements.
they must be one of twins ,born unassisted ,mother must be good at her job and have plenty milk.
all others are sold or fattened   

mowhaugh

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Scottish Borders
    • Facebook
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2014, 09:04:43 pm »
Yes agree with above - because there are a few of us dealing with different groups of sheep at lambing time, anything like that is given what we call 'the mark of death' - red spray on the back of the head, so it doesn't matter who is sorting them later on, if it's got the mark of death, away it goes.

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2014, 10:05:33 pm »
Because I have woolshedders, some were slipping through the net, having shed the green 'mark of death'. I now have some natty Shearwell visual tags with "CULL" stamped on them.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2014, 10:22:30 pm »
I think all this "cull at the first sight of a problem" is not the way ALL sheepkeepers would want nor should they manage their flocks. If I had a 1000 ewes, yes, but if you only have 20 odd you will treat them as individuals and make a decision based on several factors. My "problem" ewe was a great mother once she accepted her lambs and my management system was taking that into account - I made sure that there was a spare pen next to hers and as I spend most of my time in the lambing shed anyway I just nip in and hold the lambs on. Maybe she has put me off Suffolks and Suffolk crosses for now, but she was a great character.

Also the question was asked on how to deal with this problem now - and the answer to that one certainly would be not to give up on suckling the lamb successfully just yet. Of course again if you have huge lambing shed full of ewes/lambs there is not that much time to check on individuals/keep them back for further couple of days etc - so it may be easier to put the lamb onto the milkbar/Lamlac - as there will be lots of others.

But that is were small flock management differs from large commercial ones. It is often just a question of time available to work with individual ewes, not costing more money actually.

firther

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • holmfirth, west yorkshire
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2014, 10:28:03 pm »
I can see steves point to be honest, you can soon end up with dead lambs when mother rejects them or isn't bothered where they are. had 2 my self last year and lambs didn't do as well as the others so off they went. my theory with dogs were based on adopting lambs onto another ewe which does work

devonlad

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Nr Crediton in Devon
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2014, 10:44:27 pm »
I agree with earlier replies re keeping the lamb with the others and topping up as necessary/ \I also agree very much with your distinction between larger commercial flock management and the more intimate relationship with a smaller flock. our sheep are our hobby and whilst it is a hobby that is expected to cover costs, we know each of our 12 ewes as individuals who we name and see the extra effort needed sometimes as part of what we enjoy about caring for them. we are sure that several of our ewes would probably have been culled by now in a business driven set up- we have ewes that always need assistance lambing, that are slow in letting down milk, that have singles only etc etc.  We have culled, but this has been purely when they have not grown well and just seem poor doers who we don't want to risk the chance of them struggling in pregnancy/ for all this terribly unbusiness like approach we have produced cracking sheep for the freezer from ewes who technically should have long gone.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Rejected lamb after 3 days - leave with flock or separate?
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2014, 02:06:23 am »
An interesting discussion.  Because we breed breeding stock of a hardy native breed, we do need our ewes to be excellent mothers, and they will hand this quality down through their ewe lambs.  However, I wouldn't necessarily cull after a single problem, but would give the ewe another chance.  We have reduced our flock size in recent years so would be more likely to keep a ewe on for a second try now, compared to when we had a larger flock to manage.   

If you think about it, a ewe which rejects one of her lambs may well in fact be being very practical.  If climatic conditions, food supply or even some minor health problem will prevent her from rearing twins, then by rejecting one she is giving the other a chance at survival, rather than losing both.  In the wild, mothers (such as elephants even) will abandon their baby to save their own lives - no point in losing an adult when the young are more expendable.  This will be a natural instinctive behaviour.  It is something which I have heard that Soays on Hirta will do (I haven't been there so only second hand info) in a bad year.  In many parts of Britain this winter has been awful, so perhaps this ewe feels she can rear only one lamb.

There is also some evidence that animals can sense illness in others, and this can be a cause of an abandoned lamb, especially when it's one of twins which is rejected.  If the dam detects that a lamb has something wrong with it, she will refuse to give it any more of her valuable time.  We experienced this with a couple of Jacob ewes, which both rejected one of triplets.  They both had plenty of milk so it wasn't that.  In one case the lamb died within a few days of birth.  The other was bottle reared to 4 months when it dropped dead with a heart problem.


Mothering ability is known to vary between breeds, with Suffolks scoring near the bottom and Hebs near the top and I do think it's important in breeds right across the board, to breed for good mothering, as well as for good conformation, longevity, good feet, good teeth and so on.
However, Abbaye has only a handful of ewes so will be able to give more care to that small number, and may well be prepared to give her ewe another chance.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 02:18:10 am by Fleecewife »
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Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

 

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