when do lambs start eating grass?

by amber
(new zealand)

I was wondering if you know how old lambs are when they shoould start to eat grass?

Hi Amber

Lambs need to feed from their mothers soon after they are born to make sure that they get the nourishment and antibodies in the colostrum that is produced in the first 24 hours.

Thereafter, it is important that the lamb continues to get its mother's milk for at least 30 days of its life. Shorter than that and your lamb may often be sick and isn't as healthy as a lamb who has been left with its mum.

However, shortly after birth, within a day or two your lamb will nibble grass and hay offered to it, but it is really after about 3 weeks that the lambs start eating grass or hay more frequently.

And don't give your lamb grain. I don't believe in feeding sheep grain in any form, as they are naturally herbivores, but there are people who will disagree with me on this. However, you can kill a lamb by giving it too much grain, so that should say something!

Because sheep are ruminants the rumen organisms require fiber, nitrogen (protein), and energy carbohydrates). The microorganisms prefer a pH range of 6 to 6.8. The digestion of grain (especially finely ground grains) lowers the rumen pH. If sheep eat too much grain, their ruminal pH can drop too low and make them very sick. The rumen microorganisms are healthiest when sheep are eating high-quality forages such as vegetative pasture.

Your new lamb should, by the age of 4-6 weeks, be getting 50% of its nutritional needs from grass and hay. By 8 weeks, the rumen is fully developed.

Remember too that access to fresh water every day is also important.

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