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Author Topic: ewes drinking lamb milk  (Read 2919 times)

samdunford

  • Joined Apr 2018
ewes drinking lamb milk
« on: April 22, 2018, 08:23:06 am »
As anyone ever come across this:- we have half a dozen cade lambs that are now drinking from the bucket (with teats) but a ewe who is succefully rearing her own twins keeps sticking her head into the bucket and draining the contents!  She has access to a running stream as well as a drinking trough but seems to prefer the milk. We have never come across this before. Could she be supplementing her own calcium needs, if so would it help to give her a calcium injection?

Clarebelle

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Orkney
Re: ewes drinking lamb milk
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 06:53:51 am »
Can you move the bucket so she can't access it? I suspect she has probably developed a liking for it so she will keep going back to get it whenever you fill it

samdunford

  • Joined Apr 2018
Re: ewes drinking lamb milk
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2018, 08:57:22 am »
Yes, we can move the bucket but are trying to socialise the cades into a larger group of ewes & lambs. Its just really strange behaviour the like of which we've never seen before.

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: ewes drinking lamb milk
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2018, 09:41:21 am »
When I bottle feed lambs the adult hand reared ewes from previous years sometimes come over and show interest in the milk, I think they would drink if I allowed it..

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: ewes drinking lamb milk
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2018, 12:53:41 pm »
Might she have been reared as a cade lamb herself?  Can you restrict access by putting the milk behind a creep hurdle?|

Buttermilk

  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: ewes drinking lamb milk
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2018, 01:08:59 pm »
Make a lid for the bucket.

samdunford

  • Joined Apr 2018
Re: ewes drinking lamb milk
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2018, 07:58:27 pm »
thanks for your responses so far; she was bought in as a shearling so we do not know whether she was bottle or bucket fed. We have made a lid for the bucket but she is very adept at flicking it off! Its not too much of a problem because the cades are coming in and draining most of the bucket as soon as we fill it. Just intrigued by this previously unseen behaviour - her own twin lambs have no interest whatsoever in the bucket.

samdunford

  • Joined Apr 2018
Re: ewes drinking lamb milk
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2020, 10:53:50 am »
I started the original post on thiis topic 2 years ago, lo and behold we have it again this year. Isolated a ewe with mastitis that had twins. She's completely lost her bag and will need to be culled, but combination of withdrawal period (29 days) plus C-19 means she can't go yet. We've put a bucket in the pen for her lambs and the ewe has started supping it. As an experiment we mixed up some milk and offered it her in a tub alongside her usual water, no contest, she drained 3 pints of milk in one go. So we then mixed up another bucket and offerred it to some of the other mothering ewes, very mixed result, most aren't bothered but 3 of them are fighting over it and will drain a cuple of pints easilly. We don't know whether its just the sweetness of the milk that's attractive, a habit formed when they were bottle fed (not sure all were) or self medicating. Any observations welcome.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: ewes drinking lamb milk
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2020, 01:50:43 pm »
Powdered milk is blooming expensive to be feeding to ewes  :roflanim:   :tired:  That is my only observation!

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: ewes drinking lamb milk
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2020, 05:38:52 pm »
It occurs to me that the ewes fighting over the milk may need slightly more concentrates. Milk is not a natural food for adult ewes. They are evolved to get their nutrition from feed high in fibre which milk is not. To drink large amounts of it will encourage the wrong bacteria (like eating an excess of concentrates) and render them liable to enterotoxaema  which can be fatal.
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: ewes drinking lamb milk
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2020, 08:43:39 pm »
Dairy farmers feed spare milk and whey back to the cows and say it can make a big contribution to condition.  I know we are taught that milk mustn't get into lambs' rumens, but I guess in adult animals the rumen adapts to whatever is coming down.  The key thing is to not make sudden changes, so don't just feed them milk once in a blue moon, but either regularly for a period or not at all.

As to the ewes seeming to want what you've put out for the lambs, I would say that seems to indicate that they are one of thirsty, hungry, or after sugar or protein or minerals.  Lactating ewes should be drinking one to two gallons of water a day if they are inside on hay and concentrate, so it could just be thirst if they aren't being offered that much water.  Or maybe they need the sugar, so you could give them a molassed lick; or minerals so give them (sorry, scratched record I know) a lump of himalayan rock salt, or more protein or just more food in general so make sure they are never short of hay they will eat (which means fresh and not trampled), and up their cake if they seem to need it.
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

crobertson

  • Joined Sep 2015
Re: ewes drinking lamb milk
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2020, 08:48:02 pm »
We've had this for the first time this year. One ewe had twins who were looking a bit hungry so brought in and looks like she had the very start of mastitis and not enough milk for her lambs.

I made up a bottle to try and tempt them to drink a bit and mum came over a tried pulling the teat on the bottle. She had plenty of her own water, hay, recently had ewe nuts.

She was brought as a shearling so can only assume she was reared as a cade by previous owner.

 

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