Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end  (Read 420 times)

Remi Dixon

  • Joined Jul 2022
Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« on: July 31, 2022, 03:27:56 pm »
This lambing season has been wild and a little frustrating. I'm currently sitting with 13 lambs to rear on the bottle, all of them are doing well except one. He will not suckle no matter what. I've made sure he isn't ill or sore anywhere, I've even starved him for over 20 hours. Nothing. He can suckle and does when a ewe is near but refuses to take the bottle. If I'm lucky he'll drink once a day from the bottle and no more. I've been tubing him for the past 2 feedings because he's getting a little wobbly and I don't want the poor thing to die. I've even tried getting him to drink out of a bowl without success. Tried putting honey on the teat and in the milk and he still won't take it. It really seems like he just hates life, and I got him when he was a day old so it's not a case of being too old to put on a bottle from a ewe. I'm kind of desperate and on the verge of letting him die if he really seems so hellbent on it considering there are 12 others who are healthy and full of life. He also doesn't have any sores in his mouth or throat.

PipKelpy

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • North Shropshire
  • Dreamer with docile cow and sheep!
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2022, 04:15:55 am »
They do say sheep think of different ways to die.

Do you rub him? I was always taught rub, rub, rub to get the insides going. Rub his belly round and round, listen for gurgles.

What milk you have managed to get in, has any come out the other end?

Is there a suck reflex? Stick your finger in its mouth.

13 on a bottle? You must be nuts! I willingly did 4 cades on a bottle one year, when they're wee little lambs it's fine, but when they all develop brains and ME ME ME ideas, 4 loons bombarding me at the same time when 2 suck faster than the others and then want their mates bottles, the novelty soon wears off!
Halter train the cattle to keep them quiet but watch your back when they come a'bulling! Give them all names even those you plan to eat. Always be calm. Most importantly, invest in wellies with steel toe caps and be prepared for the clever cow who knows where the toe caps end!!

Remi Dixon

  • Joined Jul 2022
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2022, 07:31:27 am »
They really seem to think of different ways to die haha

I've rubbed him, I've tried to feed him standing, tried over my leg, against me. His belly gurgles and growls, more frequently when he hasn't had much milk.

He's got bowel movements every now and again, and doesn't seem to be constipated or struggling to get it out.

He definitely has a suck reflex, put your finger in his mouth and he sucks like there's no tomorrow. I thought at first it might be the texture of the teat so I changed it but that doesn't seem to be it either.

Hahaha I know the struggle. I raised 13 last year as well but that was due to ewes with poor genetics and no motherly instinct. This year it was a milk problem which we luckily figured out! But for them it's a game of seperate 3, feed them, and rotate until all have been fed 😂

PipKelpy

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • North Shropshire
  • Dreamer with docile cow and sheep!
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2022, 07:59:10 am »
If suck reflex IS there for your finger, dip it in milk. Try a syringe and slowly dose into mouth, rather than stomach. Dip the tits into milk, see if that might encourage the little **** to suck.

Halter train the cattle to keep them quiet but watch your back when they come a'bulling! Give them all names even those you plan to eat. Always be calm. Most importantly, invest in wellies with steel toe caps and be prepared for the clever cow who knows where the toe caps end!!

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2022, 09:01:19 am »
What teat are you using? I have most luck with the little yellow screw top ones with the red teat. They’re small, and you can cup your hand under the lambs bottom jaw whilst holding the teat in its mouth.


The other thing I do is slip a milk feed but use rehydration formula - sometimes they are actually more inclined to drink this from a bottle than the milk, especially if they’ve got the taste of ewes milk. I’ve used volac as gold, rehydion and life aid in the past. If it doesn’t suck, then tube with the electrolytes. It’ll rebalance their salts and sugars and give some energy.


Is he still in with the ewe? If so is he sucking when you’re not looking?

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2022, 10:06:52 am »
change teat would be first thing I'd do. Have you put ewe milk in the bottle or just milk replacer?
If he is getting weak then you need to get energy up by tube feeding maybe for couple of days.   (I have tube fed slow lambs for several days before they started sucking properly)

 Secondly Id have bought a lamb feeder ..... bottle feeding many lambs is such a hastle and you get older lambs who are a menace in the field when you go in.
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

http://nantygroes.blogspot.co.uk/
www.nantygroes.co.uk
Nantygroes  facebook page

Remi Dixon

  • Joined Jul 2022
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2022, 10:28:10 am »
If suck reflex IS there for your finger, dip it in milk. Try a syringe and slowly dose into mouth, rather than stomach. Dip the tits into milk, see if that might encourage the little **** to suck.

I've done the finger thing with milk but the little bugger refuses it the moment he smells the milk. He seems to have a vendetta against any milk I try to give him.

Remi Dixon

  • Joined Jul 2022
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2022, 10:38:30 am »
What teat are you using? I have most luck with the little yellow screw top ones with the red teat. They’re small, and you can cup your hand under the lambs bottom jaw whilst holding the teat in its mouth.


The other thing I do is slip a milk feed but use rehydration formula - sometimes they are actually more inclined to drink this from a bottle than the milk, especially if they’ve got the taste of ewes milk. I’ve used volac as gold, rehydion and life aid in the past. If it doesn’t suck, then tube with the electrolytes. It’ll rebalance their salts and sugars and give some energy.


Is he still in with the ewe? If so is he sucking when you’re not looking?

I first used a white latex one but they're rather hard so I switched to a softer one, he seems more inclined to suckle from it and will suck for longer periods when he's hungry enough. I switched again to a little screw top one once the softer latex stopped working and that seems to be a partial solution for when he does actually drink but it doesn't solve the getting him to drink part unfortunately.

He's not in with the ewe, we tried a few times to put him back but she tries to trample him so we removed him entirely

Remi Dixon

  • Joined Jul 2022
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2022, 10:46:16 am »
change teat would be first thing I'd do. Have you put ewe milk in the bottle or just milk replacer?
If he is getting weak then you need to get energy up by tube feeding maybe for couple of days.   (I have tube fed slow lambs for several days before they started sucking properly)

 Secondly Id have bought a lamb feeder ..... bottle feeding many lambs is such a hastle and you get older lambs who are a menace in the field when you go in.

I've tried ewe milk, 3 milk replacers and a mixture of full cream with cream, an egg yolk and glucose powder. We're sticking to the mixture since he seems to drink that more often and the smell isn't as strong as the replacer, so he gets a few mouthfuls before realising what he's drinking.

I've tubed him several times now, if he skips a feeding I tube him to prevent dehydration and malnutrition.

We do have a feeder but the little buggers are so terrible that we have to split them up to feed them. Some figured out once their teat is finished they can move on to the next and steal there. They're not in the field yet, we keep them apart in their own little pen since those ewes want nothing to do with them and try to trample them.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2022, 01:07:48 pm »
I think you’re changing too much. Go back to lamb milk powder, pay particular attention to the temperature you’re mixing it at. If he doesn’t drink then an electrolyte feed of proper rehydration stuff is fine. It sounds like he is sucking, but choose 1 teat and 1 brand of milk powder and stick to it. Cream, glucose and egg isn’t a long term milk substitute.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2022, 01:41:12 pm »
I feel your pain, and have been there...

I agree it is better now to choose one brand or mix and stick to that(*), same with type of teat now.  And also get the temperature consistent, lukewarm is better than too warm or too cold if they are fussy.

If you tube, tube only barely enough to keep him alive each time, not a full feed.  You need him hungry going into each feed.

Does he drink water?  If so, remove it for a while, he may be filling up on water.

Flow can be as important as teat type - too fast and it can go down the wrong way, so they fight against the teat; too slow and they give up trying.  So start with a new teat and a small hole, then gradually increase the size of the hole.  You do need to increase the flow as they get the hang of it and suck harder and harder. 

You sound very experienced at bottle feeding, so this bit is more for others reading this post who haven't done as much as you have...  You need to ensure that the bottle is able to "unvac" itself, or it gets harder and harder to get the milk out against the developing vacuum.  The little Pritchard teats (yellow cap, red teat, fit on a 500ml Coke bottle, other fizzy drinks are available) have a wee hole next to where the teat comes out from the cap, that needs to be uppermost so the bottle can draw air in.  The "non-vac" teats also have a hole in the rim of the teat, so again, make sure that is uppermost as you present the bottle to the lamb.

Finally, don't underestimate the power of mother love.

I had a lamb giving me similar heartache and one feed, I decided that instead of the thrice-daily fight, I would just cuddle it, and not worry about a feed.  After a few minutes of cuddling in, the little mouth started questing under my ear, I slowly brought the teat up to my hairline...  That time I got more milk in my hair and down my neck than in the lamb, but every feed after that, I cuddled it until it started to quest, and then it would feed. 

(*)  Although there is an argument for giving him 2 days on electrolytes, to get him fit and feeding first.  He may now have formed a bad association with milk, which you will need to overcome. 
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

Remi Dixon

  • Joined Jul 2022
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2022, 03:43:38 pm »
I think you’re changing too much. Go back to lamb milk powder, pay particular attention to the temperature you’re mixing it at. If he doesn’t drink then an electrolyte feed of proper rehydration stuff is fine. It sounds like he is sucking, but choose 1 teat and 1 brand of milk powder and stick to it. Cream, glucose and egg isn’t a long term milk substitute.

I don't plan on giving the cream mixture until he's grown, I've slowly been mixing in a single brand of milk replacer. I'm currently using the last teat, the screw top one and sticking to it since it's the one that gets the most milk into him and he takes it more frequently than any of the others. The milk is always body temp.

Remi Dixon

  • Joined Jul 2022
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2022, 04:04:18 pm »
I feel your pain, and have been there...

I agree it is better now to choose one brand or mix and stick to that(*), same with type of teat now.  And also get the temperature consistent, lukewarm is better than too warm or too cold if they are fussy.

If you tube, tube only barely enough to keep him alive each time, not a full feed.  You need him hungry going into each feed.

Does he drink water?  If so, remove it for a while, he may be filling up on water.

Flow can be as important as teat type - too fast and it can go down the wrong way, so they fight against the teat; too slow and they give up trying.  So start with a new teat and a small hole, then gradually increase the size of the hole.  You do need to increase the flow as they get the hang of it and suck harder and harder. 

You sound very experienced at bottle feeding, so this bit is more for others reading this post who haven't done as much as you have...  You need to ensure that the bottle is able to "unvac" itself, or it gets harder and harder to get the milk out against the developing vacuum.  The little Pritchard teats (yellow cap, red teat, fit on a 500ml Coke bottle, other fizzy drinks are available) have a wee hole next to where the teat comes out from the cap, that needs to be uppermost so the bottle can draw air in.  The "non-vac" teats also have a hole in the rim of the teat, so again, make sure that is uppermost as you present the bottle to the lamb.

Finally, don't underestimate the power of mother love.

I had a lamb giving me similar heartache and one feed, I decided that instead of the thrice-daily fight, I would just cuddle it, and not worry about a feed.  After a few minutes of cuddling in, the little mouth started questing under my ear, I slowly brought the teat up to my hairline...  That time I got more milk in my hair and down my neck than in the lamb, but every feed after that, I cuddled it until it started to quest, and then it would feed. 

(*)  Although there is an argument for giving him 2 days on electrolytes, to get him fit and feeding first.  He may now have formed a bad association with milk, which you will need to overcome. 

Yeah I'm sticking with (for now) the mixture, and slowly replacing it with the milk replacer until it's only that in the bottle. I'm gonna stick to the teat that works as well, the screw top. I've managed to get him mostly feeding today, giving him little by little every hour or so which seems to work better. It's not yet on the level I want him to drink but it's something.

He did drink water, I removed it the moment I saw since he's only 3 days old now and just drinking water and not milk.

The motherly love seems to do the trick, yesterday he wanted nothing to do with the teat even with hugs and kisses. Today he's more inclined to drink when I give some love. I don't fight with them, learned long ago it doesn't work on our sheep (meatmasters), as they're rather stubborn.

I gave electrolytes yesterday when he wouldn't drink at all and started getting dehydrated. It's better today since he's drinking a little more today. Less milk more frequently seems to be the best trick at this moment.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2022, 04:50:11 pm »
Well done for hanging in there, feel free to let off some steam whenever you need.   You're among friends who know how it feels when all you're doing is your level best to keep the ungrateful little bleaters alive!  :hug:   
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

waterbuffalofarmer

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: Lamb won't suckle, I'm at my wits end
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2022, 09:43:13 am »
They really seem to think of different ways to die haha

I've rubbed him, I've tried to feed him standing, tried over my leg, against me. His belly gurgles and growls, more frequently when he hasn't had much milk.

He's got bowel movements every now and again, and doesn't seem to be constipated or struggling to get it out.

He definitely has a suck reflex, put your finger in his mouth and he sucks like there's no tomorrow. I thought at first it might be the texture of the teat so I changed it but that doesn't seem to be it either.

Hahaha I know the struggle. I raised 13 last year as well but that was due to ewes with poor genetics and no motherly instinct. This year it was a milk problem which we luckily figured out! But for them it's a game of seperate 3, feed them, and rotate until all have been fed 😂
What bottle and teat are you using? I was given a bottle ages ago which helped me with lambs. The teat mimics a ewes teat, it might help if you can get one also. I think Ritchie make them. Worth a try just to see :) https://www.tannertrading.co.uk/lamb-feeders-and-teats/lamb-feeding-bottle-with-teat/
Here :)
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.

 

Hearing lamb suckle

Started by Dans (13.21)

Replies: 4
Views: 1490
Last post May 06, 2017, 11:29:42 pm
by SallyintNorth
At wits end with orphan lamb, any ideas?

Started by twizzel (12.48)

Replies: 19
Views: 15779
Last post February 01, 2013, 10:51:30 am
by feldar
Button tags ripped out of lamb ears - at wits end

Started by plt102 (12.21)

Replies: 8
Views: 6017
Last post April 27, 2015, 12:55:55 pm
by steve_pr
won't suckle from mum and only from bottle with resistance

Started by shearling (9.33)

Replies: 10
Views: 3299
Last post April 10, 2011, 04:17:55 pm
by shearling
Ewe not letting 2 week old lambs suckle

Started by Damsonjammer (9.22)

Replies: 3
Views: 1498
Last post May 07, 2018, 12:50:26 pm
by shep53

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Ark Farm Livestock Movement Service

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2022. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS