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Author Topic: Struggling to get lambs to bottle feed.  (Read 7665 times)

Beeducked

  • Joined Jan 2012
Struggling to get lambs to bottle feed.
« on: April 12, 2014, 01:45:35 pm »

I'm having trouble getting my lambs to bottle feed at all.


Ewe had triplets yesterday. 1 reasonable sized ram lamb, a smaller ewe lamb and a tiny ewe lamb. Was hoping that she would manage all three and the tiny girl is actually very lively. Gave her a boost of colostrum via a tube as she wasn't getting much of a look in and left her with mum to see how things went, excepting that I would probably end up bottling the little one.
A couple of hours later found both of the ewe lambs out of the pen. Mum is VERY protective of the ram lamb but seems to have lost interest in the 2 ewe lambs after cleaning them off. Stands for the ram to suckle but just keeps moving away from the ewe lambs who were cold and hungry.
Have brought them both in and have been trying to get them onto the bottle and it is not going well. They don't seem to be interested in it and if I try to force them we seem to wrestle around for a bit, all get covered in milk but not much down the lambs!
I then tube them again (the little one always then protest wees down my leg!) and they settle.


Is this something they will just get used to or am I doing something wrong? It has only been 12 hours but surprising how stressful it is with them not eating. I did wonder (had seen something here recently) if the teat on the lamb bottle was to big so got some baby bottles but they don't seem any more interested in them. Should I stop tubing them so they get properly hungry? Had worried about that as the little one seems to start shivering very quickly and I guess not much reserves when you are only 3lbs.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Struggling to get lambs to bottle feed.
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2014, 02:05:12 pm »
This year so far I've had 3 I was sure were never going to feed and would die. ::)

All three now love me to bits, two are the greediest guzzlers you could ever wish to meet.

It will come.  Promise.

Yes try different teats.  Softer, harder, ones that dribble, ones that don't.  Large bore, small bore.

Use different positions - lamb on ground, standing; lamb on your lap; lamb with rear end hanging off your leg.

Move the teat in and out of its mouth - some like it right in there, some just the merest tip.

Try different temperatures too - some like it blood heat and some much cooler.

And don't make all your interaction with these lambs be about forcing food into them, be it by bottle or by tube.  They've lost their mum and they need love.  Spend a bit of time cuddling them, stroking them, rubbing your chin on the top of their heads.   Talk to them kindly.  If you can tap into their reaction to their mother's nickering and nuzzling, they may just suddenly lift their nozzles and start questing for a teat ;)

At their age and stage then yes, I would also tube feed if they won't suck.  Every feed I would try with the teat; once you are confident they will swallow when milk is in their mouths then don't be frightened to dribble some of the milk into their mouths and hold their chin up so they swallow.  Then if they are clearly not going to suck, tube - but only enough to keep them alive.

They will suck, honest they will.  I wouldn't be so confident if they were still with mum, but once they're taken off their mother, they will come round.

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

Beeducked

  • Joined Jan 2012
Re: Struggling to get lambs to bottle feed.
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2014, 02:21:24 pm »
Thanks, I shall just have to be more patient, not my strongest quality!


They still seem full of beans so obviously not going to starve away today and it is a good point about not turning every encounter we have into a battle! Last thing I want them to be is scared of me as that really won't help. maybe a cuddle with me in my fluffiest, wooliest jumper and we will all feel a bit calmer!

Beeducked

  • Joined Jan 2012
Re: Struggling to get lambs to bottle feed.
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2014, 09:02:40 am »
Well the tiny little dot seems to have got the hang of it. I still have to put the teat in her mouth but then she suckles well. She is so full of beans I think she will do. Still quite worried about her sister who is bigger (just shy of 2kg) but still much smaller than all my other lambs. She still shows no signs of suckling and I am still having to tube feed. She is up and about but just not as interested in the world as her sister but we will keep going.

What is the longest people have had a lamb to get the hang of suckling?

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Struggling to get lambs to bottle feed.
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2014, 09:56:42 am »
What is the longest people have had a lamb to get the hang of suckling?

Several days is common, a week unusual.  I think I've probably had one take 10 days but it gets hard to count the days when you're flat out lambing!
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

Beeducked

  • Joined Jan 2012
Re: Struggling to get lambs to bottle feed.
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2014, 04:51:36 pm »
So early days then and I need to relax a bit! ;D


The little one is really getting the hang of it once the teat is in her mouth and even the other is starting to swallow a few mls down so hopefully a day or two and they will be off. :fc:


Another question : is there a calculation for milk requirements against weight? Have read the guide on the packet and it says they should be on 500mls increasing up to 1l by the end of the week. I just can't see that all lambs from my tiny 3lb girl to a big 10lb lamb all need the same amount. I know it is just a guide but 500mls is a third of her body weight!!! :o  Ultimately while she looks happy and as long as she's growing I'm going to be happy with what ever she takes.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Struggling to get lambs to bottle feed.
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2014, 12:58:01 am »
As ever with sheep, condition is the best guide to feeding.  When I bottle feed I want a nice plump but not bloated-looking stomach at every feed; concave sides means not enough.  If the biggest lamb is taking 250ml four times a day, or 330ml three times a day, the smallest of a similar age is probably only needing 200ml four times or 250ml three times to have a full tummy and not be thin.   But it does vary lamb to lamb; some good strong lambs never seem to want or need as much as 1L a day, and some small lambs can manage to put a lot away!
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

Hellybee

  • Joined Feb 2010
    • www.blaengwawrponies.co.uk
Re: Struggling to get lambs to bottle feed.
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2014, 02:46:03 pm »
Very much agree with Sally, we are doing about the same, some excellent info there for you to glean  x

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Struggling to get lambs to bottle feed.
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2014, 05:20:18 pm »
I had one like that this year, it took her 4 days of tubing to finally get a sucking reflex. I find for tricky feeders a Pritchard teat on a coke bottle is best as it's smaller. Keep tubing twice a day and it will come eventually.

Beeducked

  • Joined Jan 2012
Re: Struggling to get lambs to bottle feed.
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2014, 07:18:49 pm »
They both seem to have finally got the hang of suckling which is a huge relief.  :excited:  I still have to push the teat into their mouths to get them started but seem to be pretty enthusiastic for a short time anyway after. Still not taking massive amounts but they seem pretty bright.


On the plus side, all the angst and feeding battles have completely distracted me from ducklings hatching in the incubator and stopped me interfering. Got 12 healthy little guys and one thats a bit wobbly but we'll give him a chance.

 

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