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Author Topic: Bottle fed lamb was drinking, now not.  (Read 958 times)

NZ Caz

  • Joined Aug 2020
Bottle fed lamb was drinking, now not.
« on: August 05, 2020, 10:52:57 am »
Hi everyone, a bit of advice here would be great... 
We have 2 ewes on our small lifestyle block.  One of our ewes had twins just over 2 days ago, but she has no milk. She rejected the second lamb – a girl, who is feeding nicely on the bottle.  She is mothering the little boy nicely, but sadly has no milk (local sheep farmer confirmed this 2hours after birth, and I have checked again this afternoon – ‘hard/empty udder’, no milk).  The first 1.5days he was feeding well on the bottle (easily put on it, sucking well, drinking 150-200ml/feed), however today is not drinking much at all – and less at every feed (maybe 150ml first feed, <100ml 2nd feed, none 3rd feed, <50ml 4th feed, <50ml 5th (last) feed)
He’s looking ok still – sitting and sleeping a lot, but not looking weak or hunched up or anything.
As of today, I’m having to chase him around the paddock to catch him to feed him.  Once I catch him I get the teat in but he does his best to spit the teat out, and sticks his tongue out to the side– certainly not suckling, despite him doing it very well over his first 1.5days.  He’s still trying to drink from Mum, but is not getting anything from her (as she’s dry).
Any idea why he’s not wanting the bottle anymore? I’m wondering if I should separate him from Mum – so he’ll stick with his sister and be happy with us feeding him rather than keeping on trying his mum?
Any ideas please?


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Bottle fed lamb was drinking, now not.
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2020, 03:08:49 pm »
Are you 100% sure the milk has not come to to her , it is a common for a ewe to have no milk then a day later for her to have plenty ,this would explain his lack of hunger for a bottle ?? if no milk then yes put with his sister for company and to make it easier for you


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Bottle fed lamb was drinking, now not.
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2020, 05:41:36 pm »
I'm suspicious that the ewe might have enough milk for one lamb and he is just drinking every drop the ewe has. I would pen them separately next to each other and leave the lamb for 4 hours and try him with the bottle again, or first check the ewes udder.

When you say the ewes udder is hard/empty I don't know what you mean? If its hard, then the ewe may have mastitus and blocked teats. Empty is just literally loose skin

NZ Caz

  • Joined Aug 2020
Re: Bottle fed lamb was drinking, now not.
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2020, 10:22:16 am »
Thank you both for the advice, good idea to pen seperately for 4hours then check for milk, I didn't think of that!  The sheep farmer that checked the ewe for us a few hours after birth said she had a 'hard udder' (maybe it's a NZ term!!), and has no milk - I just interpreted this as empty, sorry to confuse.  When I had a check yesterday the udder was really firm, but not swollen and not lumpy etc.  I thought it looked same as it did when he checked it the first day, though I didn't feel it when he was here. 
 I do trust this farmer - he's on to it and run a sizeable sheep farm for decades, so expect he is right in his diagnosis.
I tied the wee boy to the fence (with about 2m of lead) this morning so no more chasing him - so no running away and he has been sitting calmly on me whilst feeding today.  I also cut a bigger hole in the teat so he's taking in milk with very little effort now - 100ml at a time - not keen to have it, but happy enough for the first 80ml at least.  Will see what tomorrow brings!


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Bottle fed lamb was drinking, now not.
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2020, 07:13:52 pm »
If the udder is firm and not producing any milk its probably Mastitus, you should speak to a vet asap. It may be possible to save the udder for next year? If left the infection can spread and get worse and the scaring will mean that she has permanantly blocked teats.. The udder won't be lumpy at this stage, its only when the milk stops being produced that the bag empties of milk and you can feel the lumps.

Really happy the lamb is taking milk though :)

NZ Caz

  • Joined Aug 2020
Re: Bottle fed lamb was drinking, now not.
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2020, 09:25:33 pm »
ok, thanks for the advice  :)


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