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Author Topic: Am I being too soft with my orphan lambs??  (Read 2272 times)

StephB

  • Joined Feb 2010
Am I being too soft with my orphan lambs??
« on: April 08, 2013, 10:43:27 am »
Hi all.

I have 9 x 10 week old orphan lambs.  I weened them from the Lamlac at 8 weeks.  They are all happily eating the lamb creep and course mix.

They have been spending that last week out in the paddock during the day with a pig arc for shelter from the wind and I put them back in the barn at night.

The decision I now have to make is when to leave them out permanently?.  They forecast showers this week in Dorset so I haven't let them out today, for the fear of it raining and me then not being able to put them back in the barn soaking wet.

Am I being too soft?.  Would they be much happier in the field rather than in the barn.?  They have plenty of room in their pen in the barn so its not unpleasant for them.

I know I have to make the decision soon, but I was half planning on putting them back in the barn at night until the last threat of frosts had gone, but fear I am being abit silly.

Any advice would be appreciated.  Please be kind, I have full intention of sending them all off for slaughter later this year, but like to make sure that my animals get the best life possible in the short time they are here.

Many thanks

Living on a 6 acre smallholding in Dorset.
Jersey cow, Aberdeen Angus cattle, small flock of Poll Dorset x sheep, Occasional weaner pigs, Geese, ducks and hens.
Polytunnel / Veg plot.

sokel

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Jun 2012
  • S W northumberland
Re: Am I being too soft with my orphan lambs??
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 11:10:20 am »
Last year we had 5. Like you ours where put to bed every night. We did go OTT and didn't stop milk till 12 weeks
They then went out with free access to a stable and they always took themselves to bed every night no matter what the weather
This year we have 9 so far. 7 in the stable and 2 tinys in the house.
They will stay in the stable till the weather warms up as the fields are covered in snow
Graham

Remy

  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: Am I being too soft with my orphan lambs??
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2013, 11:48:46 am »
I like to put my orphan lambs out in the field as soon as possible, providing they look well enough and are thriving.  If mine were weaned they would definitely be out with the others, I think they do better with their field mates and there's less likelihood of them catching some illness from being confined.  I've had my ewes and lambs out since last Wednedsay and there have been some frosts overnight, but all the lambs are doing well, so there wouldn't be any reason not to put an orphan out that was weaned, if it was me!  Even ones still on the bottle would go out, they come running over for their feed then go off to play again  :)


I have one bottle fed lamb (a triplet who was very poor), she is in a pen along with a ewe with twins and another ewe waiting to lamb.  She got an eye infection which has already passed to one of the other lambs in the next pen, these are the kind of things that are common when you keep them indoors too long.


1 horse, 2 ponies, 4 dogs, 2 Kune Kunes, a variety of sheep

Bionic

  • Joined Dec 2010
  • Talley, Carmarthenshire
Re: Am I being too soft with my orphan lambs??
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2013, 11:53:48 am »
A local farmer told me not to put them out and bring them in each evening as it can give them a chill. He said I was too soft and to remember they aren't like us.
My 3 week old and my 5 days olds are all out, although they are with their mums, and seem to be thriving.
Life is like a bowl of cherries, mostly yummy but some dodgy bits

StephB

  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: Am I being too soft with my orphan lambs??
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2013, 12:35:48 pm »
Thanks for your replies, thats what I was worried about Sally, me treating them like us and not like sheep!!.

I have strawed up the pig arc, which they can all fit in happily at the moment, they all look healthy and as we are in Dorset, we have no snow and no frosts are forecast this week but there is bit of rain.

I guess i just need to go for it   ::)
Living on a 6 acre smallholding in Dorset.
Jersey cow, Aberdeen Angus cattle, small flock of Poll Dorset x sheep, Occasional weaner pigs, Geese, ducks and hens.
Polytunnel / Veg plot.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Am I being too soft with my orphan lambs??
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2013, 04:01:39 pm »
Orphan lambs have no mum to take care of them and shelter them, so they certainly should have some shelter.  A pig arc or a stable is ideal.  If you can let them choose when to be in and when to be out then that's perfect.  In general, so long as shelter (well-ventilated but dry and not draughty) is available, sheep are better outside than in. 

I wouldn't run orphan lambs along with ewes and lambs, as some of the orphans will sneak about 'pinching' milk from the ewes.  However, once all the lambs are weaned, then the orphans can run with the ones reared by their mums, of course.  (But I'd want to be completely sure the ewes had fully dried off before I put the ewes back with them.  ;))

I know that a lot of rearers never put orphaned lambs on grass, and swear that they'll take longer and not finish well if they get onto grass.  I don't have very many years of experience but I have reared 10 or more 'pet' lambs every year for the last six years, and all of them have had access to grass and all of them have finished fine - the majority meeting the requirements for the supermarkets, and eight of them going on to become perfectly good commercial breeding ewes.

So don't be silly soft and don't treat them like children, no - but do make sure they have adequate shelter and a safe environment, as they don't have a mother ewe to look out for them.
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

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Am I being too soft with my orphan lambs??
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2013, 04:28:10 pm »
I agree - lambs are not always noted for their strong survival instinct!  The ewes will generally park the lambs in shelter or lie down up wind of them to provide shelter themselves.  Could you gather them in the arc (with some hay and water) and put a hurdle in front to keep them in overnight, as a compromise?

 

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