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Author Topic: Bottle fed lamb schedule  (Read 398 times)

Timmy T

  • Joined Feb 2021
Bottle fed lamb schedule
« on: February 28, 2021, 09:12:08 am »
Hi Folks,

So, we've navigated our first week, and things seem to be going ok. Both lambs are bottle feeding nicely (4 x 250 mls per day), both are nibbling away at the soft hay we put in (and also at the straw bedding), and both seem pretty happy and lively!

So, we're now looking at how to move on and are hoping you might be able to offer some advice on the follwing:

When increasing milk feeds, do we do it incrementally? The milk powder guide says to jump from 1000ml per day to 1500ml after 7 days. Do we increase to 1200ml for a week, then up it to 1400ml, then finally 1500ml, or just up it to 1500ml straight away?

Hay vs straw? I've read conflicting advice, some saying only feed straw, some advocating soft hay  ???

Should we now be looking to introduce lamb crumb and fresh water, or wait for another week? Do we feed the crumb by weight or just on demand (I saw an article saying always have it available, another saying don't overfeed and only put out limited quantities  ???)

When do we start putting the lambs out? Should we try to build a small pen for them in the paddock (my wife thinks we should start by putting them on the lawn!)? Do we limit their time out?

Apologies for what may seem pretty dumb questions, but just trying to do our best for the little ones! I'm also a military man, so always work better with a clear plan!!  ;)

TVM  8)
« Last Edit: February 28, 2021, 09:35:32 am by Timmy T »


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Bottle fed lamb schedule
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2021, 10:53:08 am »
I normally increase by 100ml per feed and if they finish that quickly, go up another 100ml per feed in a day or so. If they are slower, then go slower. It is difficult to have a set plan, but taking notes on what they take each feed is always useful, especially if you have more than one person feeding/more than one lamb/goat kid to feed. My lambs always have individual numbers/marks on them (they don't really get names), so you know which one does what and can communicate that easily as well.

I don't normally introduce any kind of concentrate until two weeks in, though hay from day one. I have also had good success with Readigrass for lambs/kids. And I start with really small quantities, and tidy away straight after the meal - peeing/pooping and just stepping into their feed bowls...  but I don't measure just see what they finish, and increase accordingly. I tend to stay on the less concentrate side, but then I have Shetlands (slower growing lambs) and keep them on milk longer than most sheep farmers do, but then I have dairy goats and therefore free real milk, rather than expensive milk replacer powder.

If you have them closer to your home (and supervision) on the lawn is fine, but if it is a smallish pen it needs moving every other day or so. Sunshine is good!


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Bottle fed lamb schedule
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2021, 10:57:49 am »
Glad they are feeding better. To answer a few questions (this is how I've always reared pets, you?ll get different answers from other people).

Quantity of milk- offer them a bit more and see if they will take it. Make sure they drink minimum of 1litre a day but if they want more that's fine too.

Take the hay out and replace it with creep- they will need weaning off milk by 6 weeks old to avoid bloat/red gut so need to get eating used to creep. Once they are nibbling at that, you can add in a bit of hay or straw (they will nibble straw when you put fresh bedding in). Give them fresh water, they won't take much but it'll get them used to it. Quantity wise, I always have ad-lib creep available, but to wean they must be eating a minimum amount something like 250-300g if I remember right (stand corrected on the actual quantity).

I don't put any of my pet lambs out in the field until they are weaned off milk and eating hay and creep well. Grass plus milk plus creep can cause bloat. Best to get the milk out of the equation first before introducing grass. For this reason my pets are often 8-10 weeks old before they go out- this coincides with warmer weather too. They have access to creep outside.

The biggest thing that will kill a pet lambs is bloat. When they are 4 or 5 weeks old and eating plenty of creep and still on milk don't refill their creep immediately after feeding milk. Leave a few hours or the milk plus creep in their tummy will blow them up  :unwell:  wean abruptly at 6 weeks, they will take a growth check but as long as they are eating creep and hay and drinking water they?ll be fine.


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Bottle fed lamb schedule
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2021, 11:01:59 am »
You will get many differing answers ,so personally i have never given more than 3 feeds per day early morning ,after lunch and before bed time normally having to fit in around lambing hundreds of ewes so never precise timings . When a lamb drinks all its milk and still wants more i give more until it stops sucking if milk is left it goes in the fridge to be  warmed up next feed  ( move on to cold milk only by 2 weeks of age )so precise amounts not important , i use small plastic 500ml bottles full and give what ever the lamb wants ,then at few days old i move from bottles to buckets with 3 teats per side ,so i can feed 6 lambs at the same time still 3 times per day . Clean straw after every feed ,only an arm full as they are in small lambing pens  ,this they nibble at ,have no hay so they get the best haylage to nibble at all the time fresh every day  plus a 5 lt bucket of sheep nuts ( bucket so they can't stand in it ,tied to the pen side ) changed fresh every day ( the old nuts and haylage go to the ewes )plus a 5lt bucket of water same systen as nuts.  For me its easier to keep inside until weaned as i have no suitable small area and its faster  but if you have a nice small piece of ground then put them out on nice dry days or even allow them to chose in or out if suitable
« Last Edit: February 28, 2021, 06:32:23 pm by shep53 »


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Bottle fed lamb schedule
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2021, 12:04:05 pm »
We all do it slightly differently, so it can feel overwhelming and confusing when you are starting! 

I would suggest you have a read and a think, and at each stage if you are at all unsure, post and tell us what you plan to do, and we will tell you if we can see any problems with it. 

Some guiding principles that I use :

  • They need hay or straw from early on (within the first week) to stimulate rumen development, so give a little bit of either fresh straw or fresh soft hay twice a day
  • The rumen is not fully developed until 8 weeks, and isn't really fully functional until 6 weeks, so personally I feed milk well into the 7th week
  • Too much milk at one feed so that the abomasum overflows and milk gets into the rumen is the main cause of bloat.  Dirty feed can do it too. 
  • A lamb with a gutful of grass has less room for its abomasum, so whilst they are still having full bottles it is safer to leave it an hour or two after they've been on grass before giving milk. 
  • They will try to eat anything they can put in their mouths, so if putting them on the lawn, make them a pen to keep them away from flower borders.  (And if you ever use chemicals on your lawn, think twice about putting lambs on it  ;)  )
  • Lambs are far more likely to die from too much milk than too little
  • Learn to recognise a full tummy, and stop feeding milk when the lamb develops little "handles" in front of its hips.  Just nicely convex is what you want.

Enjoy, they are very cute :)
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


  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Bottle fed lamb schedule
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2021, 03:05:19 pm »
Again I do it different to everyone else.  Once the lambs are happily drinking so day three or four I start giving the milk cold.  By day six or seven I use a bucket with a teat on it and leave ad lib cold milk available 24/7.  I wash the bucket once a day, with very hot water and washing up liquid.  Creep is offered from about 10 days old and water as soon as they are on ad lib milk.  They are bedded with fresh straw daily.  I do not give any hay/grass at this age as I want them eating creep.  If creep consumption is great enough they do not seem to get a set back at weaning.

I do not wean before six weeks but if there is no sign of blowing they will stay on the milk until about 8 weeks.  If there is any slight sign of bloat then I will wean.  Once off milk they go out to grass with the other lambs and ewes but initially there is a creep hurdle allowing them back into their old bedroom.  I find that all the lambs will move in to sleep.


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