Rearing and preparing lambs

1)    COLOSTRUM:

If available, feed 200 ml of colostrum (ewe, goat, cow) if < 24 hrs old

If no colostrum available, you can make up the following colostrum substitute and divide over 5 feeds during the first 24 hrs:

  • 700 ml cows milk
  • 1 egg yolk (beaten)
  • 5 ml cod liver oil
  • 15 g dextrose powder

An antibiotic may need to be added to this – discuss this with your veterinarian.

2)    SHELTER / WARMTH:

Often it is necessary to buy a little coat for the lamb.

Keep out of draught

3)    FEED:

Use FULL CREAM MILK POWDER (from supermarket)

Mix 200g powder with warm water to make up 1 Liter (this gives a composition closer to that of Ewe’s milk, approx. 20% dry matter)

Feed roughly according to the following guide:

Age of lambAmount/feedFeeds/day
2-7 days100-150 ml5
1-2 weeks180-250 ml4
2-3 weeks360-500 ml3
3-4 weeks500-700 ml3
4-5 weeks750 ml – 1 L2

Actual amounts fed may vary according to the breed and size of lamb.

Small, weak lambs may need to be fed less, more frequently.

Weigh lambs once a week and do NOT feed more than a total of 200 ml/kg/day.

Note that the quickest way to kill a hand-reared lamb is to over-feed it!

4)    WEANING:

  • Lambs start to eat solid foods at around 3 weeks of age normally, so the EARLIEST age to wean a hand-reared lamb on to solid concentrates is 4 weeks.
  • Offer sheep or calf starter pellets (24% protein) as well as good quality hay
  • If early weaning is planned, have the solids available from about 1 week old.
  • The minimum age to wean a hand-reared lamb on to pasture alone is 6 weeks. The pasture needs to be suitable – short and have a high legume content.

5)    CASTRATION:

Rams should be castrated between 1 and 6 weeks of age.

6)    TAIL DOCKING:

Consider tail docking lambs as flystrike prevention.

7)    VACCINATION:

Vaccinate lambs and consider annual vaccination of adults for Clostridial diseases.

8)    SHEARING:

Pet sheep need to be shorn once a year, BEFORE blow fly season (when the weather starts to warm up).

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