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Author Topic: Weaning bottle fed lambs  (Read 34074 times)

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Weaning bottle fed lambs
« on: April 25, 2012, 09:36:05 pm »
Hi just a quick question. I've had my lambs 4 weeks this week, they were between 1 and 7 days old when I got them. All feeding well they are on 2 feeds of 550ml a day now and eating a good amount of creep and hay in between.

When would you cut down to 1 feed? We are thinking this weekend then 1 bottle/day for 10-14 days, do they are weaned at approx 7 weeks old providing they continue to eat more creep and hay as the time goes on. Does this sound reasonable?

dixie

  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2012, 09:43:55 pm »
Personally I'd keep them on 2 feeds until 9-10 weeks, then down to one, then stop completely. They do set back a bit at weaning and you don't want to compromise their growth. Just my thoughts others may differ?

Fronhaul

  • Joined Jun 2011
    • Fronhaul Farm
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2012, 07:43:09 am »
I think to some extent the answer differs depending on the particular lamb.  There is one little ram lamb here whose mother died when he was six weeks old.  He refused the bottle and is absolutely thriving on creep, silage and water whereas his particular partner in crime is now 10 weeks and still on two feeds a day although his intake is dropping as he learns to eat creep.  The older boy refused to even look at creep until he was 8 weeks old.

plumseverywhere

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • Worcestershire
    • Its Baaath Time
    • Facebook
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2012, 07:46:17 am »
2 of ours started to bloat while on the combo of creep, grass and milk - being spring their little nursery paddock suddenly took on lots of lush grass. Because of this, and because they are very big and robust lambs (Suffolk/texel X) I took the decision to get them to 1 bottle a day at 7 weeks, they had their last bottle 2 days ago when the lamlac ran out and they are about 8.5 wks
Smallholding in Worcestershire, making goats milk soap for www.itsbaaathtime.com and mum to 4 girls,  goats, sheep, chickens, dog, cat and garden snails...

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2012, 11:04:03 am »
I start weaning as soon as all the following are true:
  • they're at least 5 weeks old
  • they're eating at least some creep (and hay / grass)
  • they're in reasonable condition - not too thin, not scoury, not raspy, etc
  • it suits me!

By 5 weeks, they'll be on 3 feeds a day; I start by taking out one feed and making sure they have fresh creep and hay available at the time they'd be expecting that feed - usually they turn to the creep as they're hungry and the milk hasn't showed up.

I keep them on two milk meals a day until I am sure they are eating at least 1/2 lb creep per head per day, then if their condition remains good I go down to one milk feed per day.  Usually they're only on one milk feed for 4-5 days, maybe a week, then I stop the milk altogether.

If at any time during this process their condition goes backwards then I add back a milk meal for a few days or a week and try again.

I tend to manage my pets in groups of 3 or 4, so they're on a multi-teat bucket or bottle rack system, so the rules get applied with reference to the smallest / youngest / weakest of the group.  Sometimes only one needs to get an extra feed for a few days / a week, which is manageable.

I've had a lot more pets this year than previous, and it has been a lot of work managing several batches like this.  I am thinking I might try the Shepherdess system next year, where you can run them all together on ad-lib milk, and just take them out into a no-milk group as you think they are ready to wean.  (I think you have to start them on ad-lib, you can't switch from 3 bottles-a-day to ad-lib milk or they just overfeed and bloat.) But if I knew I'd only have 6-8 pets, I'd stick with the above regime.
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

FiB

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Bala, North Wales
    • Facebook
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 07:50:14 am »
I start weaning as soon as all the following are true:
  • they're at least 5 weeks old
  • they're eating at least some creep (and hay / grass)
  • they're in reasonable condition - not too thin, not scoury, not raspy, etc
  • it suits me!
By 5 weeks, they'll be on 3 feeds a day; I start by taking out one feed and making sure they have fresh creep and hay available at the time they'd be expecting that feed - usually they turn to the creep as they're hungry and the milk hasn't showed up.

I keep them on two milk meals a day until I am sure they are eating at least 1/2 lb creep per head per day, then if their condition remains good I go down to one milk feed per day.  Usually they're only on one milk feed for 4-5 days, maybe a week, then I stop the milk altogether.

If at any time during this process their condition goes backwards then I add back a milk meal for a few days or a week and try again.

I tend to manage my pets in groups of 3 or 4, so they're on a multi-teat bucket or bottle rack system, so the rules get applied with reference to the smallest / youngest / weakest of the group.  Sometimes only one needs to get an extra feed for a few days / a week, which is manageable.

I've had a lot more pets this year than previous, and it has been a lot of work managing several batches like this.  I am thinking I might try the Shepherdess system next year, where you can run them all together on ad-lib milk, and just take them out into a no-milk group as you think they are ready to wean.  (I think you have to start them on ad-lib, you can't switch from 3 bottles-a-day to ad-lib milk or they just overfeed and bloat.) But if I knew I'd only have 6-8 pets, I'd stick with the above regime.
Old post I know, but answered 90% of my questions.....  The only Q I have left is can you do this without creep feed?  My grass is really going like the clappers now - my pet lamb is 6 weeks and fat as a house - so thoughts turning to weaning (2 cold bottles a day at mo, nothing else, he's just out eating grass with the flock).  I'm not feeding the flock at all now other than a lick bucket and the odd few nuts to gather them if I need a closer look (prob 1-2 a week).

ScotsGirl

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • Wiltshire
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2013, 08:16:09 am »
I was wondering when to stop feeding creep. My lambs are almost 13 weeks and get approx half kilo creep a day. Grass is good and although they might be a bit smaller than siblings are doing well.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2013, 08:57:30 am »
I start weaning as soon as all the following are true:
  • they're at least 5 weeks old
  • they're eating at least some creep (and hay / grass)
  • they're in reasonable condition - not too thin, not scoury, not raspy, etc
  • it suits me!
By 5 weeks, they'll be on 3 feeds a day; I start by taking out one feed and making sure they have fresh creep and hay available at the time they'd be expecting that feed - usually they turn to the creep as they're hungry and the milk hasn't showed up.

I keep them on two milk meals a day until I am sure they are eating at least 1/2 lb creep per head per day, then if their condition remains good I go down to one milk feed per day.  Usually they're only on one milk feed for 4-5 days, maybe a week, then I stop the milk altogether.

If at any time during this process their condition goes backwards then I add back a milk meal for a few days or a week and try again.

I tend to manage my pets in groups of 3 or 4, so they're on a multi-teat bucket or bottle rack system, so the rules get applied with reference to the smallest / youngest / weakest of the group.  Sometimes only one needs to get an extra feed for a few days / a week, which is manageable.

I've had a lot more pets this year than previous, and it has been a lot of work managing several batches like this.  I am thinking I might try the Shepherdess system next year, where you can run them all together on ad-lib milk, and just take them out into a no-milk group as you think they are ready to wean.  (I think you have to start them on ad-lib, you can't switch from 3 bottles-a-day to ad-lib milk or they just overfeed and bloat.) But if I knew I'd only have 6-8 pets, I'd stick with the above regime.
Old post I know, but answered 90% of my questions.....  The only Q I have left is can you do this without creep feed?  My grass is really going like the clappers now - my pet lamb is 6 weeks and fat as a house - so thoughts turning to weaning (2 cold bottles a day at mo, nothing else, he's just out eating grass with the flock).  I'm not feeding the flock at all now other than a lick bucket and the odd few nuts to gather them if I need a closer look (prob 1-2 a week).

Probably could wean without creep if your grass is good, but from experience the lambs don't seem to cover as well. Ours had the 1/2lb per day rule until 12 weeks old and look really well for it, OH's sister and mum are rearing a few lambs too and didn't feed half the amount of creep that we did and it does show, they don't seem as well covered and their shoulders and back end aren't as rounded and filled out as our lambs are.
We stopped feeding the 1/2lb creep ration when they went out into the field at 10-12 wks (previously been in a paddock from 6wks to get used to grazing and rough off a bit) however they still get a small handful each day when we feed the calves that they are out with a. to keep them off the calves corn and b. to keep them a bit tame and bucket trained.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2013, 09:52:24 am »
How I think about it is this.

Lambs being reared on their mothers have mother's milk until they are weaned, usually not younger than 12 weeks and often longer.  Orphan lambs need something to take the place of mother's milk; until we wean them, that's the milk we feed them, but after that they need creep to replace the protein their non-orphaned siblings are getting from their mothers' milk.

So I would not withhold creep from orphan lambs until they are at least 12 weeks old, no, and in fact I'd keep them on longer as we know that however well we've fed them, replacement milk and creep are never as good as mum's milk. ;)
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

FiB

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Bala, North Wales
    • Facebook
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2013, 10:40:10 am »
Brill thanks - was hoping to do without creep (Ive only one bottle fed in a field of 115 other lambs and their mums so would rather do without the logistics) - so I'll ditch thoughts of weaning for another month or so, but perhaps cut down to one bottle in a few weeks.  Thanks again, Fi xx

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2013, 10:44:39 am »
If they are 6 weeks old they should be off milk by now, not only is it expensive but they need to be developing the rumen and a natural progression is hay and creep feed. Keeping them on milk for too long can give them pot bellies- OH's mum and sister's lambs are on milk for a lot longer than our lambs and it shows- they carry all of their weight around their belly and as I said earlier they aren't half as well covered as our lambs. Also they will be more prone to bloat on milk so it is better to cut it out slightly early and the lambs take a check in growth (not that ours have in the last few years when weaned at 6wks) than end up with a dead lamb that's had bloat.

FiB

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Bala, North Wales
    • Facebook
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2013, 12:33:55 pm »
Oh crikey, back to the drawing board !!!!  Surely not everyone does creep feed,(what happened in 'the old days'?) ?????!!!!  Is there a way that I can just do milk and grass like in nature (although I accept that in nature my little ramy lamb would be dead!)?    Ideally I want the lambs to be just grass fed (and lambed deliberately late to help with this) and don't mind if it takes longer to get to meat weight (but dont want to harm his growth).  Thanks for this guidance though the latest minefield in my new shepherds year!

ScotsGirl

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • Wiltshire
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2013, 08:40:54 am »
I have weaned lambs off milk at around 8-10 weeks in past and to be honest can't remember ever giving regular creep feeds. I have this year as milk expensive and I was making it weaker and supplementing one then two feeds with creep. I will probably stop when bag runs out they will be about 14-16 weeks by then.


I understand your predicament and usually try and keep orphans in a house paddock so easy to feed. As it is only a few handfuls twice a day can't you just make a pen and put orphan in to eat? Still time consuming I'm afraid.

FiB

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Bala, North Wales
    • Facebook
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2013, 08:47:19 am »
I have weaned lambs off milk at around 8-10 weeks in past and to be honest can't remember ever giving regular creep feeds. I have this year as milk expensive and I was making it weaker and supplementing one then two feeds with creep. I will probably stop when bag runs out they will be about 14-16 weeks by then.


I understand your predicament and usually try and keep orphans in a house paddock so easy to feed. As it is only a few handfuls twice a day can't you just make a pen and put orphan in to eat? Still time consuming I'm afraid.
Saviour thanks for sharing that Non creep experience!  I will buy a bag today and make a mini pen in field to feed him in (the pen isn't the issue (I had 7 hurdles for my birthday  :excited: :excited: ) - its the stampede of other sheep, and I don't want to put him on his own - if I have a few next year I'll do that).  He is 7 weeks yesterday and bag of milk will last another day or 2 so was trying to avoid buying another bag.  Many thanks! Fi xx

moony

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Dent
Re: Weaning bottle fed lambs
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2013, 09:48:03 am »
We wean ours at 6-8 wks with no creep. Most at 6wks. They are kept on a small grass paddock from a wk old so by then are munching happily. Never had any problems whatsoever. If you feed them creep they will without any doubt grow quicker but most of ours have caught up by autumn.

 

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