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Author Topic: Bottle feeding  (Read 1246 times)

dixie

  • Joined Mar 2009
Bottle feeding
« on: April 17, 2023, 08:41:52 am »
Iím bottle feeding a triplet and following the lamlac advice, which is: from 7 days to weaning, 1.5litres divided between 2-4 feeds in 24hrs. Lamb is 3 weeks old and having 4 feeds of 350ml, is in good grass, access to hay and creep. I also read on the lamlac website if the milk is free flowing the hole is too big. Mine are! Is that a problem? Is there a guide to when to reduce to 3 or 2 feeds per day, and if I reduce I assume I increase the amount in the bottle? Thank you

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Bottle feeding
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2023, 08:10:57 am »
Once the lamb is over a week old and sucking strongly, there's not really any such thing as flowing too freely.  I wonder if the comment referred to a shepherdess feeder rather than bottle feeding.  You don't want the milk pouring out of an automated feeder on its own! 

Yes you can come down to 3 feeds a day now if it's better for you and yes you don't reduce the overall ration, so each feed gets bigger.  Just keep an eye on how round the belly gets, if you start to see "love handles" appearing, the lamb is full and you're at risk of overflowing the abomasum, which is a place you do not want to be (milk in the rumen can cause bloat.) 

Personally I don't like feeding more than 500ml per feed (due risk of bloat due to overfilling), so if using lamblac I would not reduce to 2 feeds until starting to wean, then would just cut out one feed and not increase the size of the remaining two feeds.  (One reason I prefer the Downland milk to Lamblac, it's 1L a day, so you can keep them on full rations with 2x 500ml.)  You can start to reduce the milk at 6 weeks but the rumen is not fully developed until 8 weeks, so I usually keep one bottle going until the 8th week, but reduce how much is in it over the 8th week.  (But I know there are others on here fear bloat if the lamb has access to grass and/or nuts, and stop milk abruptly at 6 weeks.) 
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

dixie

  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Bottle feeding
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2023, 08:45:28 am »
Thatís really helpful thank you, sheís still on 4 feeds but drinks the lot so Iíll reduce to 3 now, Iíll watch her tummy doesnít bulge, it hasnít so far thereís still a slight dip at the end of her ribs if that makes sense!
So if I keep on 3 feeds until sheís 5 weeks then 2 when sheís 6 weeks then 1 until sheís 8 weeks, does that sound right? Weíve rarely had a bottle lamb, 15 years ago we were given 4 orphans which sadly we lost one to bloat, hence my wanting to get it right!

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Bottle feeding
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2023, 01:39:42 pm »
Sounds about right.  As long as she's thriving, not getting the "love handles" after a feed, and eating her hay, nuts and grass, all is well  :thumbsup:
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

Tulip23

  • Joined Apr 2023
Re: Bottle feeding
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2023, 03:34:58 pm »
I read this post and as many others as I have found on the subject as I am a first time lamber this time and sadly we have a cade lamb.  She is living at home with me as her mum rejected her and the other attempt at adoption failed too.  I have been feeding her Shepherdess milk from a bottle and she is now up to 1200ml per day on 4 feeds.  I work and thankfully my husband is at home and can do the lunch time feed.  I am confused about a few things. 
1.  I have encouraged her to have an outdoor life as much as possible.  She plays and runs about and nibbles but not grazes the long-ish lawn (not had a lawnmower on it this year), has hay and water too.  I am confused - there are so many well meaning posts, articles, pages on the internet!  Am i doing the wrong thing? 
2. Due to fear of bloat last Sunday, I increased the milk feeds to four from three.  I had tried to reduce them.  The internet suggested that I shouldnt go by the information on the reverse of the milk powder bag and tailor it to her size.  When I said this to the vet, she was very firm in saying that I cant overfeed the lamb and she ALWAYS tells people to follow the insructions on the powder bag.  I am suffice to say confused as to how to wean her from four feeds to three.  Bfast is around 6.30am, lunch around 1230pm tea at 6.30pm and late night around 10.30pm -11pm.
3.  Should I be putting creep feed down for her to rummage around in?  Again, so many different ideas.  My son didnt want to get the lamb flock eating creep, we are raising them for Hoggett so slow rearing is our idea.   But, reading and cofusing myself, Im with the idea that creep feed helps them firstly develop a taste for eating and secondly the rumen.  Or is it poking about with hay and grass that does that?
The lamb at home was never something I had in mind - very naively I am aware.....we think the ewe lambed the first took to him meanwhile delviered the now cade and being a first timer, didnt know there was another to deal with.  The cade is rather precious as we found her in a near death state so feel accomplished and proud of her so far. 
I will need help/advice with weaning and integrating to the lamb flock in the summer - but for now, I will take it as slowly and step by step as possible! 
I do hope someone out there is able to help me as I really am feeling my way.   :sheep: :sheep:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Bottle feeding
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2023, 11:39:33 pm »
I'm sure we can help you fathom what works best in your circumstances :)

You will find there will be some differences of opinion, even here :), about some elements of feeding and weaning.  But what that actually tells you is that there is no one "right way", that a variety of techniques have benefits and downsides - so don't be too fearful that doing or nor doing any one thing in a particular way will kill your little charge. 

Unfortunately, the fact that we have all evolved our own specific ways of doing things to avoid problems we've had in the past also tells you that sometimes these lambs don't thrive, even when very experienced people do their very best to avoid all the pitfalls they know about.   

Yes, a cade lamb will do better with creep, at least until 4-6 months, and may need extra rations through winter.  However careful we are, we can't give them as good a start as being reared by a lactating ewe will do, so they'll need more support for longer.  Lambs being reared by their mothers get milk until weaning, which a farmer might do at 4 months or so, or might let the ewe do it herself a while later.  Bottle lambs get weaned much younger, usually by 8 weeks at the latest, so they need some other way of getting the nutrients that the other lambs are still getting from their mothers' udders.  So most guidance about weaning is going to talk about how much creep the lamb needs to be eating before it's safe to wean it. 

Yes they need to eat forage - grass, hay, straw - to develop the rumen.  Ideally they have access to some forage from within the first week.

Creep isn't necessary for rumen development as such, but ruminants need the gut flora established to digest whatever feedstuffs they're eating, so as we want the weaned lamb to eat some sort of cake for a while after weaning, we start to introduce it at around 3 weeks to get the rumen used to it well before the lamb needs to rely on it. 

Personally I like to use a pasture mix rather than a specific (and higher protein) pelleted lamb creep feed.  The variety of sizes, shapes, textures and shapes makes it more interesting to the lambs, and I find they'll start to pick at it (and probably eat the peas or the maize flakes only at first) earlier.  (It's cheaper and usually lasts better too.)

Before giving you specific advice about your lamb's feed size and number, we'll need a bit more information. 

How old is she?  What breed of sheep (ewe and tup)? 



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

Tulip23

  • Joined Apr 2023
Re: Bottle feeding
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2023, 08:19:38 pm »
Thank you so much for your very kind reply.  I have been trying to get to a computer all day to reply!

My little cade is 25 days old and was found in a very pitiful state in what we have called the nursery paddock. She was cold, wet, seemingly lifeless and had a stiff-ish neck.  I took her to a friend who could feed her ewe colostrum via tube under a heat lamp.  She rallied and lives to tell her tale. 

She is a bit of a mix, ewe is a Suffolk xMule and tup is a Grey Faced Dartmoor. The lambs are very nicely put-together if you know what I mean?

The flock is very small - 5 ewes all first timers and we hired the tup.  Now we have 9 lambs and 5 ewes.   We sadly had one stillborn.   We managed to adopt a triplet lamb to the ewe who had the stillborn and they are doing very well.  The triplets were an emergency trip to the vet.....labour seemed not to be progressing and turned out the first to exit was breech position but a bad breech!  Timing meant we narrowly avoided a caesarean.

From day 3 or so, the cade has had access to outdoors - grass.  She has a very, very large dog crate that acts as her bed - wheat straw, meadow hay and water.   She tries to involve the cat in her spritely activities and is very happy to race me around the garden.

Thank you for your help.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Bottle feeding
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2023, 11:00:57 pm »
Okay, good.  Thanks for the extra info.

So your lamb's breeding and age, yes I'd be happy to get her on 3 bottle feeds now, and happily give her up to 500ml per feed (up to a total of whatever the back of the bag says) without worrying too much about bloat. I would however always do the "watch the love handles" thing I talked about upthread.  My experience is that cade lambs (and bottle- and bucket-fed calves) do not do as well later on if overfed milk at each feed.  I've evolved the love handles thing and it's worked for me, I had similar grades for my cades when they went away as their ewe-reared peers got, albeit the cades took longer.  Prior to my taking over the cades, the "pet lambs" were always expected to grade at least one grade lower than the ewe-reared lambs. 

If you do feel anxious about bloat due feeding milk and giving access to grass, then you could arrange things so   that she doesn't have a bellyful of milk and a bellyful of grass all at the same time.  So if she's coming in overnight, maybe don't give her a full bottle as soon as she comes in, but give her a breather of an hour or so to digest the grass she ate immediately before she came in.  And give her her morning bottle an hour before you put her out. 

She may start to eat creep more hungrily within a week or so, she's about the age to start doing a bit more than playing with it.  I sometimes find that a lamb getting a lot of milk isn't that interested in creep, so at about week 6, when you are starting to want to see a decent amount of creep going in so that they're on at least 1/2lb a day before you wean completely, it may be necessary to halve or even cut out one of the bottle feeds they get when they're still indoors, so that they still feel hungry and will have to make it up by eating creep.  But some lambs are happily munching away at creep by then without needing a nudge, so it's a bit suck it and see what you've got when you get there. 
« Last Edit: April 24, 2023, 11:06:35 pm by SallyintNorth »
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

Tulip23

  • Joined Apr 2023
Re: Bottle feeding
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2023, 07:06:51 pm »
Thank you SallyintNorth.  Your replies are most helpful.  Ive been and bought a bag of Ram and Lamb coarse feed and aim to start her on it at the weekend when I can be around to watch what she is up to! 

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Bottle feeding
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2023, 01:29:09 pm »
Iíve ended up with three molly lambs this year. One I had to take off, one I got as company for the first one, and one whoís Mum sadly died. The first two Iíve been feeding the same - I know my one has just gone five weeks now and fed her pal the same to keep it simple. The one whose Mum died is a couple of weeks older. I started giving him a top-up of milk when his Mum passed away at more of a nominal amount. The other two are on approx a litre over three feeds. All out on grass now with some creep too if they take it. I havenít seen any evidence of bloat but it does worry me when I read about people losing them! Someone told me they found reducing the amount and feeds worked better than cutting them off completely so Iím doing that.
I know a lot of people wean them at 6 weeks. Is there that much benefit to keeping them on till 8 weeks?

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Bottle feeding
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2023, 02:36:50 pm »

I know a lot of people wean them at 6 weeks. Is there that much benefit to keeping them on till 8 weeks?

The benefit of giving them milk until 8 weeks is that the rumen isn't fully functional until 8 weeks, so they cannot process a wholly non-milk diet very effectively at 6 weeks.  Which means at best, some waste of inputs  and at worst, lambs who suffer quite a setback at that early weaning, which can have knock-on effects later and may well mean they will never grade as well as their ewe-reared peers.

But if you lose a lamb to bloat, that can wipe out a lot of benefit!  So therefore, many prefer to play it safe and wean earlier, reducing the risk of bloat.

I always used to feed a full ration up to 7 weeks, then reduce gradually over the next 5-10 days.  But then one year I had a batch of lambs - reared the same way and bred the same way as all the lambs before them which had done well on the previous regime - showing low-level bloat symptoms at 7 weeks, so they got weaned abruptly at 7 weeks.  They did fine, graded as well as any others, didn't struggle in winter worse than any others.  So now I am inclined to cut out one bottle at 7 weeks and the other a few days later, if all is well.  Any lamb which goes backwards might get half a bottle or so for a few more days then try again.

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

 

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