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Author Topic: Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals  (Read 4236 times)


  • Joined Oct 2014
  • Perth, Western Australia
Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals
« on: October 16, 2014, 07:31:07 am »
Hello, I'm a newbie here, and also to the world of keeping sheep, so would be very grateful for some help with an bottle fed lamb.  Brief background -  we have a 2.5 acre paddock behind our house with plenty of good grass and some mature trees.  2 years ago we acquired 4 young alpaca wethers for their fleece, then 2 months ago we bought 2 x 3month old dorper ewes for breeding.  We weren't sure how the alpacas would feel about having their nice herd encroached on so we chose the bolshiest ewes from the breeder, put them straight in with the alpacas and they've got on fine.

5 weeks ago our neigbour's sheep gave birth to triplets right by our fence.  Two of them were up and off, the third lamb couldn't stand and got left in the ditch covered in flies.  You've guessed it, with the neighbour's blessing I acquired a lamb.  She didn't get much colostrum, weighed about 2kg and couldn't stand for the first three days.  I expected her to die but she took the bottle ok (I'm so much of an amateur I didn't even realise sheep need different teats - she's had a normal baby's teat the whole way through) and the last 5 weeks has been like having a newborn baby in the house.  It was the end of winter and quite cold (I'm in Perth, no, the other one - Western Australia) so I put her in a nappy and a babygro to keep warm and the long and the short is that although she's still only just on 7kg she's eating hay and a few pellets and doing well.  She sits under my desk by day and sleeps by the bed at night.

But she can't stay in the house forever and my attempts to get her in the paddock with the others are not going well.  Inevitably perhaps I've made the mistake of letting her really see me as mum, even my husband won't really do.  The two ewes generally completely ignore her, and she them, though when I've tried to push her towards them they stamp their feet and head butt her - not promising.  The alpacas are great up to a point, they're very gentle, but as she doesn't want to be part of their flock they move round the paddock and leave her behind.  I've been leaving her out there for the mornings, and she literally runs up and down the fence line behind the house crying for 4 solid hours till all I can hear are heartbreaking croaky sore-throated little bleats.   I need to get her out there all day to start acclimatising to the heat - I'm not expecting her to be fully weaned till Christmas, by which time it'll be  :sunshine: in the 40s (C).

If anyone's been in this situation, or has advice I'd be really grateful.  All the advice on google is to put the orphan in with a couple of gentle ewes (!) and their lambs so should I see if I can get another lamb so they can both go in the paddock together (though I fear that might just be doubling my current problem!), do I just have to harden my heart and hope she fits in eventually or would she be better off in a new home altogether?  Thanks in advance for any help!


  • Joined Oct 2010
  • South Northamptonshire
Re: Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2014, 10:48:02 am »
She needs to go out in the paddock.  Providing she's not being continually knocked about (she will probably be knocked away a bit at first) then you just need to do whatever you need to do to tolerate her calling.

Get her bottle mounted on the fence so that she can feed ad-lib - I used the black metal frame for holding a small fire extinguisher - worked a treat.  You may need to protect the bottle from the other ewes by surrounding it with hurdles - one of which is small enough to admit the lamb but not the ewes.

I'm sure you've got some shade for her.

At that point she is safe, fed and has the company of others.  You're almost there.

You can start moving her off milk onto lamb specific concentrate.  See what your supplier has then follow their guidelines for timing and quantities but don't switch too quickly.

Before you know it she's spend more time grazing and less time looking for you.

Hope it goes well.


  • Joined Mar 2011
Re: Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2014, 11:32:20 am »
Hi, I'm not really a smallholder as all of my 11 sheep are rescued.  When I've taken on a sick/weak lamb, I always get another one to keep it company - they still get really attached to you, but it's easier for them when they have to go to the field.  Maybe you could get another bottlefed lamb to keep her company.  Good luck


  • Joined Oct 2014
  • Perth, Western Australia
Re: Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2014, 01:36:12 pm »
Thanks Yeoman and Maureen, I think I'm just going to have to harden my heart.  But maybe I'll just see if anyone has a bottlefed lamb they want to rehome..... :innocent:


  • Joined May 2013
Re: Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2014, 04:49:44 pm »
we have been there too, our lamb used to sit on the couch and watch tv with the family  :roflanim:
in the summer he lived in our porch and had free access to the outdoors, but mainly hung around the house/garden. he did live with the flock in the end but was never completely one of the gang.


  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2014, 05:42:59 pm »
Phew so I'm not the only one whose had lambs living in the house then.  I agree with getting a little companion for the lamb, we ve only ever had one Molly on her own and that was our first season, she was kept with some of the flock whilst being nursed and after weaning was never really tame. But every other year there s always been a little gang, would never have one on its own, hope you find a companion xx


  • Joined Oct 2014
  • Perth, Western Australia
Re: Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2014, 12:38:40 pm »
A quick update....mixed results.  We've had a fairly mild few days so I hardened my heart and put her in the paddock first thing every day, just bringing her in at night.  I've taken bottles out to her every 4-5 hours.  She has no concept of belonging to the other animals so they go wandering round the paddock and she just sits by the gate chewing.  On a couple of occasions the alpacas have swept her up and I've seen her in another part of the paddock with them, so that's my hope at the moment, that she learns to become an alpaca, but it doesn't seem to take much for her to wander back to the gate, or them to wander off without her.   The two ewes are very hostile to her.  I've put a few feelers out for another lamb, but my concern is that she won't bond with the new lamb either....

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2014, 08:47:38 pm »
In my experience bottle fed lambs mostly turn into "proper" sheep once they get past weaning age.  Some remain more friendly than those raised by their dams, some don't. Sheep are flock animals and for a while there you were all the flock she had, hence the need to be near you.


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2014, 08:11:25 am »
Bottles of milk every 4 hours seems rather a lot at 5 weeks ...I know she had a bad start so will take a little longer but you can wean lambs at 5 to 6 weeks.  She will not become a 'sheep' until she eats some grass ..... maybe cut down on daytime bottles..... Or give much less at each feed to encourage grazing.

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.
Nantygroes  facebook page


  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2014, 09:11:56 am »
Is she drinking water that will be a good indicator that she can step down one xx


  • Joined Oct 2014
  • Perth, Western Australia
Re: Bottle fed lamb won't join other animals
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2014, 02:40:51 am »
Thanks Backinwellies (my mum was from Llangadog, know Llandeilo well) and Hellybee.....she is eating hay and grass pretty well though she's not keen on the lamb pellets - they obviously have something nice on the outside but not so nice on the inside cos she gives them a good chew then spits them out   :roflanim:.  The ewes won't touch them and they eat anything. 

She's having 5 feeds of 7oz/200ml a day, ie a litre in total which is what it said on the can of Divetalact (milk replacer) when I was still using that, have now changed to normal milk and cream which she's tolerating much better.  She had a massive bloat at 3 weeks, thought she was going to die, so sticking to what she's happy to drink in one sitting.  She's drinking water as well. 

I don't know what dorpers are supposed to weigh - she was about 2kg at birth, coming in at 7.7kg this morning (6 weeks old today).  From my research it seems that weaning is more by weight than age - I've seen anything from 9kg to 12kg as the minimum.

But on a positive note, she's out with the alpacas during the day (most people get one alpaca to look after a flock of sheep, I've got four alpacas to look after one lamb... :thinking:) and she's grazing happily so I guess it's just going to take a while but hopefully she'll get there in the end.  I'm still bringing her in at night for now but I don't think it'll be much longer.  Will try and post a photo of her in alpaca daycare :)


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