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Author Topic: Hand rearing rejected lambs  (Read 397 times)

Timmy T

  • Joined Feb 2021
Hand rearing rejected lambs
« on: February 24, 2021, 08:13:22 am »

My wife has just adopted 2 rejected lambs and we?re looking for advice?

So, one is a Texel, the other a Black Suffolk cross, and both are 4 days old but were rejected by their Mums after 2 days. We've made a pen inside a field shelter in the stable yard and deep littered it with straw and added a large heavy duty cardboard packing case as somewhere to retreat to (similar to a puppy crate).

The milk powder manufacturer recommends 4 x 250ml feeds a day, but we are only getting them to take 100-150ml. Is this normal, as we don't want to force them, although they seem to latch on and suckle easily enough? Similarly, we don't want to starve them! Also, we were advised not to put a water bowl in, as that will detract from the milk, but that seems strange?

Any advice for new lamb parents gratefully received!



  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Hand rearing rejected lambs
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2021, 11:21:36 am »
Lambs are all different sizes so the amount they drink varies ,so long as their tummies look full not hollow then its fine they will slowly increase their intake as they grow and get stronger , very young lambs only need milk then as they start to eat dry foods then they may need water . Try to keep them warm with no drafts at low levels


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Hand rearing rejected lambs
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2021, 01:28:20 pm »
I would feed lambs as young as these at least 5 times a day to appetite and record how much they take at each feed. This is mostly to help you decide if they need any extra feeds, also you could weight them every other day or so. By the time they are a couple of weeks old they should take 1.5 to 2 ltrs per day.

Clean and dry bedding is important. As long as they are dry, out of drafts and have full tummies they do not need any additional heat (indeed it is quite dangerous to leave a heat lamp anywhere near straw or other bedding...).

Do you know if they have had colostrum and also if the sheep fdarmer vaccinates his ewes for clostridial diseases (Heptavac or similar). If they are males - have they been castrated?

Timmy T

  • Joined Feb 2021
Re: Hand rearing rejected lambs
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2021, 03:50:36 pm »
The girls did suckle to begin with, but not after the second day. All the ewes are vaccinated.


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Hand rearing rejected lambs
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2021, 04:30:03 pm »
The girls did suckle to begin with, but not after the second day. All the ewes are vaccinated.

It is unusual for a ewe to reject her own lamb after feeding it for a couple of days.  It does happen when the lamb was an adoptee, which she rejects once the birth hormones die down in her system. 

It's possible there was a mix-up of lambs at birthing time, and the ewes subsequently rejected lambs stolen (or accidentally fed) at the time. 

If there was no mixup or unsuccessful fostering, then the ewes may have been (a) detecting some problem in the rejected lambs, and ceasing to feed them therefore, or (b) low on milk and made a decision to favour one lamb over the other, so as to rear one lamb well and let the second take its chances.  In both these cases, the bottle lambs are therefore "at risk" lambs, with a subpar start in life. 

Of course many such lambs do do fine and get bottle reared with no issues, but just be aware that success is not guaranteed, even if you do everything perfectly. 
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


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