Hand Raising Lambs and
Orphan Lambs - Homemade Colostrum Recipes
Raising lambs can be a tricky process.
Know what to feed, how much to feed, and a colostrum recipe included so
that your lambs survive.
Raising Lambs: The First Few Hours of your Orphan Lamb are
Orphan lambs can often be found lying
in frozen fields left out in the cold overnight and half to death.
Unless you intervene your lamb will die. Bring the lamb into your
kitchen and if you have a wood stove place it next to this in a
cardboard box lined with woolen blankets. If you don't have a wood
stove or fire going, place two hot-water bottles in the box with the
lamb. Cover the hot-water bottles with towels so as not to burn the
lamb. If it revives and shows signs of life, feed it with 120ml of
You may have to feed it using a stomach
tube, as most lambs in this state don't suck readily. You can get
special lamb reviving stomach tubes from some farm or veterinary
outlets. If you cannot find a stomach tube, use 600 mm or 3 mm bore
plastic tubing. Round the end in a flame and punch a few holes near the
end with a leather punch. Hold the lamb's head up so that the neck is
straight and gently push the tube down its gullet. Make sure that the
tube doesn't end up in the lungs.
Hold up the funnel and fill it with
colostrum. If using a plastic tube, a syringe may be easier to feed the
lamb with, since a funnel with a neck thin enough may be hard to come
by for some.
Raising Lambs: Hand-Rearing Lambs or Fostering Lambs?
Now when you find your
lamb you have a
dilemma. Are you going to be
raising lambs through hand-rearing or are
you going to foster the
lamb out? Lamb fostering is by far the easiest method for
you if a suitable ewe is available to be the surrogate mum, and is
willing. However, even when this looks like an easier option, often the
ewe won't readily accept the lamb, and then it becomes a battle of will
If the ewe's own lamb has just died,
one can try and fool the
ewe by tying the dead lamb's fleece on the
orphan lamb until she accepts it. However, this doesn't
always work and you
will have to look for other devious methods, and other methods that
just doesn't give the ewe much of an option! If she has a lamb of her
own, having another to feed will not affect the milk production for her
One devious method is to try and
confuse the smell of the
lamb. The ewe is always able to identify her
own lamb out of a flock by smelling the lamb's head and rear end. To
cause the confusion rub a strong-smelling liquid on the lamb's tail and
head such as an antiseptic or even olive oil, and at the same time,
also rub it on the ewe's muzzle. Another method, is to rub the foetal
fluids of the dead lamb all over the lamb to be fostered,
particular attention to the head and tail areas, which the ewe will
Another method is to put the ewe and
the lamb together in a fairly dark, restricted area with food and
water. Confine them in
this area until they have bonded. This should
happen over the next 2 days. If not you will then have to restrict the
ewe by tying her up in such a way that the lamb has access to the milk
and the ewe cannot reject or head-butt or hurt the lamb.
Raising Lambs: Bottle-Feeding your Orphan Lamb
How to Feed an Orphan Lamb
If this still hasn't worked, the only
option for raising lambs here is to bottle-feed your lamb.
However, during these 2 days while
you are trying to get your lamb to be accepted you must feed your lamb
some colostrum as soon as after birth as possible. If you don't do this
your lamb will most like die within a few days with a large clot in its
gut. The colostrum is also very necessary as it contains anti-bodies
that will protect the lamb from disease and acts as a laxative to get
rid of fecal matter.
Colostrum is easy to get if you have
other lambing ewes as you can milk a ewe for the colostrum and place
this in a bottle for your orphan lamb. You can also do this and store
it in a freezer for emergencies like this. Colostrum will keep frozen
for 6 months. Allow the colostrum to thaw in a water bath
at no more
than 40 degrees Celsius so as not
to destroy the anti-bodies in the
Raising Lambs: Homemade Colostrum Recipe
As a last resort you can make your own
colostrum with the following recipe:
740 ml cows milk
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon cod liver oil (as
1 teaspoon glucose sugar
Mix well and either use or refrigerate
until needed. When you feed your lamb it should be warmed up like a
baby's bottle to just blood heat.
Another recipe for homemade colostrum:
Mix together and feed as directed here.
Raising Lambs: How much Milk to Feed your Orphan Lamb
If you are not able to
foster you will
have to hand-rear. Your
lamb will need to be fed 140 ml every 4 hours.
Hold the lamb's head up and feed from above its head and let the milk
drip down into the teat. Allow the lamb to stand while you feed it, and
do not cuddle and cradle it with it on your knee as it will end up with
milk in its lungs and it will get pneumonia.
Feed your lamb the milk from the above
recipe for 24 hours. After that you will need to slowly replace this
with a lamb milk replacer as cow's milk is good for calves and lamb's
milk is good for lambs, and not vice versa on a long term basis. Give
it 200 ml four times a day. Gradually build this up to 500 ml per feed
still at four times a day. Do this for 2 weeks. After
this increase to
700ml three times a day
for another 2 weeks. As the lamb matures start
cutting back to two 500
ml feeds per day.
By the second week the lamb should be
given fresh water, hay, and grass. If possible allow the lamb out with
the rest of the flock during the day. After 8 weeks of feeding your
lamb should be well on the road to recovery, and you should start
weaning them at about 5-6
weeks of age. By week
13 your lamb should be completely
weaned off milk.
If your lamb is
undersized, or your orphan
lamb is weak feed 60
ml every 3 hours, for 6 feeds. On the second day feed 90 ml every 3 hours for 6 feeds.
After that, proceed carefully before increasing the milk intake.
Continue to feed at 3 hour intervals until after week 2.
Tips for Judging How much
to Feed an Ophan Lamb:
After any meal the
lamb's sides should be straight from the hips to the
rib cage. If they the
sides are not straight but puffed out, you are giving your lamb too
much to eat. Miss a meal and reduce the amount of milk
you have been giving to the lamb.
Make sure that the milk is just at blood
heat, and not too hot.
If you are purchasing teats from the drug store or other stores you
will have to make the
teat hole bigger by using a hot darning needle.
The hole should not be so small that the lamb becomes
but the hole also shouldn't be so large that the lamb chokes. As the
lamb becomes older the hole can be made bigger with a pair of small
Raising Lambs: Problems
with Orphan Lambs
are 3 main problems with
- The first is that it
might not survive the exposure
to the elements and get hypothermia.
- Secondly, they don't
colostrum in them early enough and die from a clot.
- And finally, when
raising lambs they
get scours, mostly due to overfeeding and unhygienic teats and bottles.
Sterilize as you would your own baby's teats and bottles and you
shouldn't have a problem.
Do you have any Tips and Advice for Others who are Hand
Raising Orphan Lambs?
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