Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Lambs in winter  (Read 1664 times)


  • Joined Mar 2009
Lambs in winter
« on: December 02, 2019, 03:46:55 pm »
Hi question regarding feeding lambs in winter, I lamb later these days in April, before I used to try and take the biggest to slaughter straight from weaning before Christmas, however now I lamb later theyíre not ready until jan/feb time. Mine never seem to get that big, and always drop weight, I feed ad-lib hay but at the moment theyíre in a fresh paddock so seem to be grazing rather than eating hay and I feed sheep mix twice a day, just a scoop daily is enough as anymore and they leave it so I guess theyíre not hungry? I only have 9 lambs this year.  I donít worm as have egg counts done, but Im interested to know what others feed and or any advice please, thank you.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2019, 03:52:46 pm »
What breed do you keep @dixie ?    Our Primitives are renowned for not putting on weight over the winter no matter how much feed they get.  So we tend to overwinter them on hay, licky bucket and tree branches, then send them off in Aug at 16 months, after they have filled out on summer grass.  I've not kept commercial breeds so I don't know if they have the same problem.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.


  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2019, 04:00:00 pm »
Mine are Heinz 57ís  ;D  ewes are easy cares and the ram mixed breed, previous ram was a beltex.


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2019, 04:01:09 pm »
As above what breed are they? Most commercial bred April born lambs should be able to finish by Christmas. Even my tiny pure bred Lleyn pet lamb went fat in October, and he was born first March.

Are they up to date with fluke drench? Liver fluke wonít show up on worm egg counts until the fluke is at adult stage and could potentially have caused damage by then. Do they suffer from cocci? That would show on egg counts.

Other than that the grass loses nutritional value at this time of year, my lambs kept for breeding are on grass and a feed block and looking okay considering the weather.

If youíre still concerned and they are losing condition it might be worth getting the vet to look at them and maybe take some bloods ?


  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2019, 04:31:24 pm »
Thank you, Iíve not considered cocci, and no Iíve never used fluke drench should I be using that as routine?


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2019, 04:49:40 pm »
I had the same issue with late born lambs, if they aren't ready by xmas then you really need to pile the feed into them and hope for the best, you could even house them, or just leave them till april/may when the grass is growing well. All mine did was grow over the winter but were far to lean for my buyer.


  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2019, 05:07:11 pm »
So Iím not doing anything wrong then?  Last years were small but I decided to take them anyway, they were really lean but really good. What weight should I expect them to be? Although condition scoring Iíd say they were thin at the moment, maybe I should being them in then theyíd eat the hay rather than grazing?
« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 06:06:46 pm by dixie »


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2019, 05:44:48 pm »
Since you say they are grazing and not eating much hay plus getting  some feed which they leave if you give to much and are still small and lean then I would get a blood test done for mins  I would guess maybe cobolt deficient .   If you had a  fluke problem you would know with very lean and very dead sheep a quick FEC would show eggs or a blood test  . If you ask your neighbours or vet they should tell you if your area is deficient in mins


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2019, 08:12:50 pm »
Try feeding cake once a day only, and if they arenít eating at least 120g head/day, cut it out completely until they will eat at least that much.

Their rumen biome has to adjust to and from grass each time they get a feed of cake, so unless they are eating enough to be worth the physiological effort, itís counter productive.  And for the same reason, itís more efficient to feed the cake in one feed than two.

An alternative is to feed grass pellets instead of a cereal mix, so the biome adjustment is considerably less.

Do you feed hay first and cake after, or what?  Are they filling up on hay so donít feel hungry for the cake, but perhaps would eat more cake if you fed that first, then could pick at the hay for the rest of the day?

Is the hay of good quality and nutritional value?  If itís filling them up, and taking energy to digest, but delivering little nutrition...
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 Mar 2009
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2019, 09:32:34 pm »
I generally feed twice a day, sheep mix and fill hay rack when empty, I feed all year even if only a handful each just to keep them tame and to check theyíre all ok.


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2019, 09:39:22 pm »
Would be worth doing some bloods and getting the vet to set eye over them.

Bringing them in onto hay wonít fatten them  on itís own, they do need hard feed as well.


  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2019, 09:15:46 am »
Ok thank you for your help, Iíll give the vet a call  :sheep:


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Lambs in winter
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2019, 11:35:26 am »
I'm surprised your vet hasn't advised to fluke them at least once or twice a year, in autumn and spring. There are very few places in the UK now dry enough not to be able to sustain fluke, and it's carried by deer, rabbits and other mammals and isn't species specific (unlike worms). I'd have a word about that as s/he'll have information on local conditions.


Finishing lambs before winter

Started by twizzel (9.5)

Replies: 10
Views: 2899
Last post October 01, 2013, 11:10:24 am
by twizzel
Ram in with ewe Lambs from late winter?

Started by B Smith (9.5)

Replies: 5
Views: 1635
Last post January 03, 2018, 02:14:48 pm
by bj_cardiff
Winter feeding pet lambs

Started by Helencg1 (9.5)

Replies: 2
Views: 398
Last post December 14, 2020, 10:15:37 pm
by Anke
Winter feeding for lambs (non pregnant sheep)

Started by Ladygrey (9.29)

Replies: 5
Views: 2426
Last post December 11, 2012, 11:31:34 pm
by Dougal
Mixing in lambs ewes with new mums/lambs, advice please

Started by OhLaLa (5.79)

Replies: 5
Views: 4089
Last post March 12, 2011, 10:29:22 am
by OhLaLa

Forum sponsors

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

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2021. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS