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Author Topic: How soon will a new born lamb go downhill if not feeding from it's mother?  (Read 21207 times)


  • Joined Nov 2010
I'm probably just being over anxious but it's our first lambing season and this is our first lamb.

Lamb born about 40 hours ago. Mum has milk and has bonded but the lamb doesn't seem to ever feed and doesn't seem to have much of a clue as to what to do. Mum had a lamb last year so is not new to all of this. We've been bottle feeding her every 3 hours but she only takes a tiny amount and we don't want to force her too much. Other than that she's warm, bright eyed and bushy tailed, seems to have plenty of energy, very inquisitive etc. She's also weeing and pooing so something may be going through her.

Can I assume that she must be feeding form her mum (when we're not looking) or else she'd be in a sorry state by now?


  • Joined Jan 2010
Sounds like she is ok.  Keep a close eye and check mum's udder to see if they feel like they have been suckled from.  I would have thought that the lamb would look pretty unwell if it wasn't eating something


  • Joined Nov 2010
Typical. You post on a forum and then 10 minutes later the problem gets solved by itself. I'm happy to report I've just seen lamb feeding from her mum  :)


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • France
there you go, all sounded ok, but it dosen't hurt to worry too much, if you just ignored things they are much harder to put right. Never be afraid to ask, after all thats how we all learn  ;D
Glad ewe and lamb are doing well fingers crossed for the rest of your lambing  :hshoe: :sheep:


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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AND it lets non sheepie people know problems.  I have never had sheep, and can't here, but was desperate to know what the answer was to your question. So glad the wee soul is suckling. :)
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age


  • Guest
The answer is to make sure the lamb has sucked within an hour of getting to its feet.

When putting a lamb to the teat it helps if you put a hand on the front of the lamb's forehead/face as you keep it forward to the ewe with your leg. Lots of people try to push the lamb in with a hand behind its ears, but this only makes the lamb want to back up out of there. Hand pressure (light) on the forehead makes the lamb push harder and will help it. Use the free hand to hold the teat to the lamb's mouth whilst helping the lamb by opening its mouth and introducing the teat.

You must make sure new lambs have sooked before leaving them for any length of time, as an hour in poor climatic conditions will them off if they haven't fed. Even if a lamcb doesn't die, it will be severely compromised in the first hours by neglecting to get it sooking.


  • Joined Aug 2010
  • kent
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Yes I agree with all said, I thought the same but some of my primitive types, like the one just lambed, didnt see the birth, found the ewe and lamb running around the pen one morning, Ive put on the iodine to the navel,  4 days later I still havnt seen it feeding !! but I know she is as its bouncing around the pen !!  All good !! but obviously shy !!
Suffolk x romneys and Texel X with Romney Tup, Shetlands and Southdown Tup


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
It's always best to check that the lamb is actually feeding.  Even an experienced ewe can get irritated and not stand still for an incessently questing nibbling little mouth, even when she's bonded with the lamb.  In similar circumstances I would definitely pen the ewe and lamb together and see what happens if I push the lamb towards mum's udder, and if I help the lamb to latch onto a teat.  Any sign of the ewe pulling away or knocking the lamb away and I make sure it gets a feed.

In this case it all sounds fine, thank goodness.
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 Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Glad it's feeding  :)

The way to tell is if their tummies are full. Lift their front legs off the floor and put your other hand with fingers and thumb either side of their tummy, near where it joins the back legs and squeeze very gently. You quickly can tell if there's a nice little bulge there or it's thin and empty.

I've had lambs I haven't caught feeding but they must be cos their tummies are full - and then sure enough, finally you catch them at it.

We have Rough Fells who have huge thick and long fleeces, so to help lambs out I clip the 'curtain' hanging down from either flank shorter, cos often the lambs try sucking fleece instead of teat.


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