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Author Topic: Ewe very thin after heavy milking  (Read 2217 times)


  • Joined Jul 2012
Ewe very thin after heavy milking
« on: April 12, 2014, 11:02:50 pm »
One of my ewes has lost a lot of condition after milking heavily for the last 6 weeks with twin ram lambs. Her lambs are growing fast ( they've almost caught up with ones born weeks earlier) so she seems to be producing plenty of milk, but I am concerned that they seem to be taking so much out of her. She is really thin. The grass isn't growing strongly yet where we are ( still waiting for the clovers to appear) but they have access to hay and are getting concentrates and sugar beet pulp.  They have a high energy feed bucket but since I changed it to a high mag version they are taking far less  - it doesn't seem as palatable. She was fluke drenched and wormed at the end of January (though they are due to be dosed again now).

Any suggestions on how to improve her condition? Should I hand feed her separately, and if so how much? Her lambs aren't much interested in concentrates yet.   


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Ewe very thin after heavy milking
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2014, 02:13:33 am »
I assume there is plenty of fresh water available - and that the lambs can reach too?  (Ie., not in a high-sided trough that they can't reach.)  As they're on hay not grass, they'll need lots of water, and if the lambs can't access water then the only fluid they can get is mum's milk. ;)

Are you offering the lambs lamb creep?  Ie., highly palatable feed designed to make lambs want to eat it.  At 6 weeks they really should be eating cake if its there.  Otherwise, is it that the bigger lambs are hogging the lamb cake and these boys aren't really getting a crack at it?

If you can get them to eat cake then that will reduce the load on the ewe.  And once they are eating sensible amounts, if she is still very thin, then you could wean them.

Yes I would certainly be making sure the ewe has plenty of cake.  Depending on breed, 1-2lb per day.  And if she's being crowded out from the trough by stronger ewes then yes, taking her to one side and feeding her on her own may be necessary.

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: Ewe very thin after heavy milking
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2014, 02:15:07 pm »
What breed and age is she?  Mountain ewes can lose a lot of condition, especially after their 3rd or 4th set of lambs.  It's one of the reasons they tend to have singles anyway - don't have the grazing or create the body fat reserves to raise more satisfactorily, especially in poor weather or a late Spring.


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Ewe very thin after heavy milking
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2014, 07:39:29 pm »
Seems like they (lambs and mum) might need feeding away from the others?

To put condition onto milking animals, dairy nuts are a possibility (designed for cows). I feed them to my goats when they're milking heavily - as your ewe has been. Check the copper content though for sheep, and it also depends what sort of sheep you have. I'm in a copper-deficient area and don't have sensitive sheep (ie Texels).

Flaked maize seems to go down well and put on weight - ditto a heavily molassed 'flakey mix' - I'Ansons do one, I'm sure others do.

Plus a drench of cobalt+selenium won't hurt, particularly if she's not really accessing the lick.


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