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Author Topic: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?  (Read 29608 times)

Blacksheep

  • Joined May 2008
Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« on: March 10, 2013, 05:00:41 pm »
We have had quite a few triplets born, have managed to foster one or two spare lambs on to single bearing ewes. As the ewes tend to get sores on their teats if we leave 3 lambs on for too long we have been taking off a triplet when they are about 2 weeks old or so.  Most seem to take to the bottle quite readily however we have one large strong ram lamb removed at 2/12 weeks old that is totally refusing to drink or swallow and am a bit of a loss with him, he was taken off the ewe 3 days ago. He is with other cades, I have had a bucket feeder up in the hope that he would take to that. Have spent ages trying to persuade him to drink but most of the milk just runs out of the side of his mouth as he refuses to swallow. We resorted to tubing him last night but he is chewing the tube with sharp teeth so will put holes in it in no time, I have also syringed some yogurt thickened milk into him today as he needs something.  Really thought he would have started to take something by now, he is getting quite trembly when we do manage to get something into him now.  Any tips to break his hungerstrike appreciated please.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2013, 05:30:50 pm »
I had a lamb like that this year. She was taken off 2 ewes as both rejected her, and the farmer was having difficulty getting her onto a bottle. It just took perseverance, try holding her mouth closed around the teat, you could try moving the test forward and back in her mouth. In the end out of desperation I posted on here and took advice to try another teat, so went out and bought a tiny thin red teat with the yellow screw on fixing that will screw onto a coke bottle, she took to that no problem. We had been using non-vac teats and they were too big for her mouth. also try missing a feed so they are really hungry, then have a go. It tests your patience to the limit but is worth persevering in the end- once they've got the idea the relief you feel is immense!!

Blacksheep

  • Joined May 2008
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2013, 08:17:07 pm »
Hi twizzle thanks for the reply, how long did it take your lamb to get going?   Have tried both teat types, this is a big lamb though so no problem with the teats being too big.   He has gone without feeds, or at least very little, but at his age you don't really want to be missing too many and he is getting quite tucked up.    He has creep and soaked sugar beet available as well as hay but he is not really interested in the feeds.  Have also tried adding some honey to his milk.  He seems to want to give up now he is off him mum  :(   

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2013, 09:02:14 pm »
Never had one refuse to suck.  DIm ones that can't work out how, yes.  Just hold their mouth closed around the teat and squeeze the bottle a very little to drip the milk in.

Blacksheep

  • Joined May 2008
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2013, 11:51:59 pm »
He does know how to suck from a bottle as I offered him a bottle a couple of times before taking him off his dam, and he was happy to drink from it then, hence I wasn't expecting a problem with him.  It is more that he is refusing to suck than that he is too dim,   a real shame as he otherwise is a big strong fellow.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2013, 12:32:13 am »
Weeelll.... I have had a lamb lap from a bowl... :thinking:

Try making a few changes so that if this is now a habit, it feels different and you might get a different response.  A different bottle and/or teat, milk slightly warmer or slightly colder - or even switch to PSF for a feed or two, so it's a different fluid too; hold him differently, get someone different to try to bottle feed him if you can, feed him in a different place, different times.

If he continues his hunger strike, then I would, starting one morning, remove all other food and water, offer him a bottle for a few minutes, if he doesn't drink, leave him (still without any other food or fluid) and try again 4 hours later.  Repeat until he breaks.  Increase the between-attempts time to 6 hours if he is particularly obstinate.

Yes it sounds brutal but you are trying to save his life.  They can cling on with wisps of hay and little laps of water for a surprisingly long time, they usually capitulate quite quickly if those options aren't available.

If he doesn't give in on the first day and you don't want to leave him with no fluid overnight, either tube a subsistence ration into him (so he won't die but will still be hungry in the morning), or leave him some water with some milk in it. ;)

I had quite a few led me this merry dance last year, and at least three where I thought I would never get them to drink.  I did lose one of them, but only that one.  Both the other hard nuts gave in when they had only one other option.  Most of the others only needed one 4 or 6 hour fast to come around.

Good luck
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

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2013, 06:43:50 am »
Have considered that sometimes they just don't like the taste. Is feeding goats milk an option?
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

Blacksheep

  • Joined May 2008
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2013, 11:15:59 am »
Remember reading about your lamb that lapped from a bowl Sally, he definately had a good survival instinct. Thank you for the detailed reply.
I did withhold water for the first couple of days as I thought that he would be more likely to want to drink if he was thirsty from eating creep or hay, but no!
I will try offering him a bowl to see if he will drink from that, but will need to separate him, find lambs are quite good at sticking their feet in bowls! OH has also tried to feed him without any luck.  PSF - not sure what this is?
I had one last year completely refuse to drink but he was closer to 4 weeks and tucked into the creep feed and soaked sugarbeet and got by on that. This one seems too depressed to try. All very frustrating but will keep trying, but don't want to lose him, may have to bring his dam back in and see if she will have him back and if she does try another of her triplets. I did consider looking to purchase a nanny goat after scanning when I realised how many sets of triplets were due!

Will see if I can get hold of some goats milk to try kanisha, but it would have to be pasturised supermarket stuff as I don't know of anyone with a nanny goat.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2013, 11:30:00 am »
I too had a lamb this year who lapped from a bowl- he cottoned on that the bucket of milk that was on the floor was about to go into the shepherdess, so had a good gulp before it went in the feeder!
R.e. the lamb that wouldn't suck, I think it took about a week of me tearing my hair out before she gave in... just keep trying and eventually it will come. I'd take out the creep and beet though so she's really hungry for milk as it's the only option... take a look back at my posts and you'll find my desparation post about my ewe lamb, there were some great tips on it.

colliewoman

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Pilton
  • Caution! May spontaneously talk rabbits!
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2013, 11:37:32 am »
Can you get him back on to mum and take a different lamb away?
But then that is probably as much stress as battling on :-\
We'll turn the dust to soil,
Turn the rust of hate back into passion.
It's not water into wine
But it's here, and it's happening.
Massive,
but passive.


Bring the peace back

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2013, 11:41:59 am »
PSF = Pfizer Scour Formula.  It's for calves really but works fine rehydrating lambs, or keeping them going if they're scouring.  So if you want to take them off milk for any reason, you can use it instead for a day or two.

I don't know about store-bought goats milk, but pasteurised homogenised cows milk is not digestible by lambs.  (Ask BH how he knows. ;))

Our lambs do fine on milk straight from the house Jersey - do you have a dairy nearby you could get some untreated milk from?

I think I would try the PSF anyway, it may be that the minerals and vitamins it contains will just boost his appetite and turn him onto milk.  Otherwise, I think I might try him with a squirt of Lamb Boost or similar - again, the minerals and so on will give him a boost and may stimulate his appetite.  (I'm not sure I'd do the Lamb Boost and PSF though.)
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

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2013, 11:44:58 am »
Can you get him back on to mum and take a different lamb away?
But then that is probably as much stress as battling on :-\

I now feel really stupid.  :dunce:   That's what we should have all suggested first.

  • See if either of the other lambs would drink from the bottle, and if so,
  • Check if mum would take this one back - she may surprise you.  I had a lamb injured I had to take off mum and she did have him back more than 48 hours after she last saw him.
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

colliewoman

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Pilton
  • Caution! May spontaneously talk rabbits!
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2013, 07:50:11 pm »
 ;D
We'll turn the dust to soil,
Turn the rust of hate back into passion.
It's not water into wine
But it's here, and it's happening.
Massive,
but passive.


Bring the peace back

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2013, 07:52:33 pm »
any news?? :fc:
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

Blacksheep

  • Joined May 2008
Re: Any tips for persuading a reluctant lamb to bottle feed?
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2013, 03:56:11 am »
have tried goats milk, it is pasteurised but I thought if it got him drinking no matter as he would probably then go back to formula - no luck though. Have tried electrolyte drink, again he says NO. Have been tubing him. His dam is turned away in a far field with her other 2 lambs, OH hasn't had a chance to bring her back in, but I think it may be a bit late for her to take him back now anyway. Before we took him off her he was the only one that would take milk from the bottle! We brought him inside overnight to see if he would get more confident around us, he seemed quite bright at a change of scene, chased the cat a bit and slept by the rayburn! Followed me about outside in the morning and then went back in with his friends, it seems to be the attempts to bottle feed him that make him depressed!
Have been tubing him to make sure he gets a good drink at night, think we will just continue this for another week to 10 days, as he seems much less stressed by this than by bottle feeding and hope by then that he will be eating enough creep to manage as this will get him to just about 5 weeks old.
At least the other 12 triplet cades are more than happy to bottle feed, don't like the bucket though!!

 

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