The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: Mrs Mccoy on May 09, 2022, 08:01:00 am

Title: Weaning lambs off ad lib feeder
Post by: Mrs Mccoy on May 09, 2022, 08:01:00 am
Hi all,
I just wanted to sound you out about weaning our lambs off ad-lib
They are currently ranging from 3 weeks to 5 and consuming about 1.75 litres a day. They can come and go to the bucket and spend much of the day with the flock though we still shut them in at night. Although they’ve got creep on offer they show little interest but do appear to pick at grass.
I’m thinking that when they are all 6 weeks we need to change things. My plan is to take the bucket away and give them 2 bottle feeds ( though I’m unsure of amount) and keep creep, hay, access to grass .
We’ve raised bottle babies lots of time but this is the first year on bucket. They are the strongest, liveliest, healthiest and biggest ones we’ve ever raised but would like reassurance/ advice re the next phase. Thanks
Title: Re: Weaning lambs off ad lib feeder
Post by: twizzel on May 09, 2022, 09:30:48 am
Wean abruptly, as long as they are picking at creep and hay/straw (straw is better for rumen development) and have been introduced to water- they won’t drink much until you take the milk away. Stop it overnight, I tend to move mine into a new pen with a big trough of creep, hay, water. They will make a right racket but settle after a couple of days. I wean anytime from 5 weeks old. I have tried most ways of feeding/weaning pet lambs, and abrupt weaning will reduce the risk of bloat significantly. I wouldn’t bother putting them back on bottles- more work, plus if you reduce the amount of milk from ad lib they will look for creep to fill the gap, but then have a bottle and then the risk for bloat is increased.
Title: Re: Weaning lambs off ad lib feeder
Post by: shep53 on May 09, 2022, 10:09:07 am
If i am reading it correctly twizzel's lambs are inside and their rumen has developed quickly by eating creep and forage  but Mrs Mccoy's are on a system which is the same as on a mother outside mostly nibbling grass + milk so their rumen will develop slowly 8_10 wks of age
Title: Re: Weaning lambs off ad lib feeder
Post by: Mrs Mccoy on May 11, 2022, 07:13:16 pm
You’re right Shep53 . Our system is different to Twizzles and for good reason. We decided a few years ago that as we got older it made life easier to raise our bottle ewes with the aim of them joining the flock as adults. Prior to this our bottle raised individuals tended to be rather sedentary unfit individuals only really any good for fattening. We’ve had great success in the last  few years of combining bottle feeding while they run with the flock and today almost half of our breeding ewes are tame, making handling them so much easier. This years babies are extremely active, spend most of their time running with the flock and return periodically to top up from the bucket through a narrow lamb sized gap . We’re just nervous about that time when we need to wean them off it
Title: Re: Weaning lambs off ad lib feeder
Post by: twizzel on May 11, 2022, 10:14:19 pm
To be fair there is nothing wrong with either system, it’s whatever works for you. I just gave a fairly standard approach to weaning off ad lib milk, though most farmers wouldn’t have lambs out in the field whilst on a milk feeder. With the price of milk powder, I don’t want lambs on milk any longer than they need to be, and they do perfectly well on a commercial rearing system (milk, wean at 5-6 weeks, creep for a few weeks in a large pen), then go out to join the rest of the flock on just grass once they’re a few months old. They all go fat, by the autumn. I try to keep any potential breeding ewe lambs out of the pet pen. Still an easy to handle flock though, anything excessively wild tends to go cull. That’s just what works for me though.
Title: Re: Weaning lambs off ad lib feeder
Post by: shep53 on May 12, 2022, 09:40:09 am
When the youngest lamb is 8wks i would just take away the milk feeder , so long as they have a good amount of grass to eat  ,just make sure they can get at water and maybe keep feeding creep for a few weeks more