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Author Topic: orphaned lambs  (Read 1193 times)

country soul

  • Joined Feb 2010
orphaned lambs
« on: April 23, 2019, 12:31:19 pm »
 I had a ewe die leaving twin lambs  approaching a month old ,never had one like this before .I struggling to get one to drink from a bottle..  its nibbling creep and hay   but is probably too young to survive without milk I m thinking?
tips or advice welcome


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: orphaned lambs
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2019, 06:23:58 pm »
They really need milk until at least 6 weeks, preferably 8 (although I know others on here disagree with me on that, and wean at 5 and 6 weeks.). The rumen is not fully developed until 8 weeks, and isn’t really developed enough to sustain life and health until around 6 weeks. 

So it would be worth persevering if you can.  I had two lambs passed to me at just over 4 weeks of age.  One of them in particular was very anti a bottle.  I penned them with hurdles on straw, with hay but not much creep, and offered a bottle twice a day, persevering each time until I got at least some into both.  They had other sheep nearby / next to them but not in the pen with them.  After maybe three days, one lamb was drinking well but the other took over a week.  It did come round though, although that one never actually ran to me for its bottle, I always had to catch it. 

For the period where I was keeping them both penned in order to get milk into the awkward one, I was never sure if I was doing the best thing.  But seeing them at 4 months, both strapping great healthy things, I knew I’d made the right decisions and given them the best start. 

Sometimes it feels mad to put so much effort in for so many weeks, into an animal which will be going to slaughter at about six months old, but when they are strapping great healthy lambs, enjoying life out at grass for the summer, not pot-bellied poor things that often don’t come through the winter, then it seems worth it to me :)

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 Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: orphaned lambs
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2019, 12:13:22 pm »
I would keep trying I think. What is the lambs weight/condition like at the moment?  If it won't drink at all I would put out with the flock on the best grass you have and hope for the best. The lamb might be able to pinch enough milk to get by and grass is much better for it than hay

country soul

  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: orphaned lambs
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2019, 01:42:49 pm »
thanks both I ll persist with the awkward  one a bit longer,both are bright at the moment,time will tell I guess 

country soul

  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: orphaned lambs
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2019, 12:28:32 pm »
up date.... I persisted  and now both lambs are drinking  well from a quick can I wean them off it !!!!


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: orphaned lambs
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2019, 12:44:33 pm »
Their probably around 6 weeks now aren't they? I'd continue for another couple of weeks as the time they wouldn't drink must of knocked them back quite a bit, so they have plenty of weight on them before weaning.

My bottle fed lambs live out with the rest of the flock from around 4 weeks old and I feed them in the field.

country soul

  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: orphaned lambs
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2019, 02:35:21 pm »
I thought an update  may be of interest ,the lambs were weaned off milk at 7 weeks  and have been on creep feed and grass since .they have done remarkably well   given the tragedy of loosing the  mother.

Claire B

  • Joined Apr 2019
Re: orphaned lambs
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2019, 09:00:34 am »
We have a ‘Shepherdess’ milk feeder for orphaned lambs. They take to it very well and it just needs to be topped up as needed and cleaned properly (Milton) once a day. That is less hard work than a bottle and they can be out in the field learning to be sheep!


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