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* How to Take Care of Lambs

Updated on January 29, 2017
Titia profile image

I raise and breed sheep for over 30 years. My breed is the oldest and most rare Dutch native breed, called Drenthe Heath Sheep.

There are several factors that can lead a ewe to reject a lamb.
There are several factors that can lead a ewe to reject a lamb. | Source

Taking Care of Newborn Lambs

Having bred sheep for over 30 years, I now raise a very old and rare Dutch variety called Drenthe Heath Sheep, or Drents Heideschaap in Dutch. Usually the ewes take very good care of their own lambs, as this breed still stands very close to nature and natural behaviour. But sometimes I do have to step in when, for some reason, the ewe won't or can't feed her lambs by herself.

Not all breeders will take care of a rejected or abandoned lamb. Some say that if a lamb has been rejected by its mom, there must be something wrong and they get rid of both. I don't do that, because there are so many (sometimes external) reasons why ewes won't take care of their lambs. I always give a ewe a second chance to prove that they can be a good mom. If she rejects her lambs a second time the next year, then I know she's not a good mom and I don't breed the ewe again.

A Lamb Is Born

Picking up scent.
Picking up scent. | Source
Having contractions.
Having contractions. | Source
The amniotic sac comes first.
The amniotic sac comes first. | Source
The lamb is in the right position, frontlegs first with the head on top.
The lamb is in the right position, frontlegs first with the head on top. | Source
The head is through.
The head is through. | Source
Halfway down.
Halfway down. | Source
Landed, and mom starts to lick it dry.
Landed, and mom starts to lick it dry. | Source
Getting on its feet.
Getting on its feet. | Source
Not easy to stand. The lamb falls down and trys again while mom is licking.
Not easy to stand. The lamb falls down and trys again while mom is licking. | Source
Finally. It only takes about 15 minutes or less before it's ready to find that nipple.
Finally. It only takes about 15 minutes or less before it's ready to find that nipple. | Source

How Do Ewes and Lambs Recognize Each Other?

When a ewe is giving birth, she makes these special noises that sound a bit like snoring. She is talking to her offspring inside. Once the lamb is born, they both make noises. Each lamb and ewe have their specific noise or voice, and that's how a ewe and her lamb will recognize each other in the midst of a big herd. They also recognize each other's smell. Put another lamb in front of a ewe and she will push it away, in not a friendly way. Our ewes have no pardon for lambs of other ewes and will even take it up their horns and swing it in the air.

Within a few hours however, the lambs learn to stay with their moms and keep out of the other ewes' way. In our breed, it is almost impossible to let a ewe raise a lamb that's not her own. In some other breeds this is often done and then one doesn't have to bottle-feed an abandoned lamb. But our ewes are normally very ruthless and will injure or kill a strange lamb if it's getting too close to them.

Some Reasons a Ewe Might Reject Her Lambs

  • The ewe has no motherly feelings. It sometimes happens a ewe has no motherly feelings. When a ewe is really, really nasty to her lambs and won't have them near her, then I won't breed with her again.
  • Delivery caused the ewe a lot of pain. A young ewe connects birth pain with the lamb and doesn't want it near her. I had this happen once. The young ewe had had a very hard time delivering the lamb, but as I couldn't be sure if it was that or the reason above, I decided not to breed with her again.
  • The ewe is too young. If the ewe is too young, she might not know yet what to do with a lamb. This happens quite often when breeding with ewes in the same year they have been born. At least it happens quite often with the breed I have, because this breed matures slowly, like wild animals. I never breed with ewes in the same year they have been born.
  • The lamb is sick or weak. There can be something wrong with the lamb. Most ewes sense that and don't bother anymore. Of course you can try to keep the lamb alive, but I don't do that. If the lamb is not good, I'll put it down. No use raising weak animals.
  • Something is wrong with the lambs teeth. This causes pain when it's nursing. Lambs are born with teeth in the lower jaw, but they are covered with a soft layer of skin so they won't injure mom's teats while drinking. Sometimes this skin does not cover all of the teeth and then it hurts while the lamb sucks the teat.
  • The ewe can be sick. Sometimes ewes suffer from inflammation of the udder, could have a bad udder, or the afterbirth won't come out and becomes infected. In any of these cases, you should call your vet because the ewe could die a painful death.
  • The lamb has been touched by strangers. Never let family or friends pick up a newborn lamb. Picking up a lamb too soon can change it's smell and cause the mom to not recognize her own lamb anymore. Even if you're the owner/breeder, be careful not to pet your dog before you pick up a lamb.
  • Something scared the hell out of mom. Take precautions that no dogs can scare the mom while giving birth to her lambs. Once, at a friend's place, a ewe had just given birth quite close to the fence and the neighbour's dog suddenly came running and barking. The ewe was so scared that she didn't dare come close to her lamb anymore.

When Ewes Steal Lambs

If you breed lambs, you may encounter this strange situation. Here is what happened on my farm. Maybe hearing this story will prevent you from losing a lamb.

I once had a ewe who used to steal lambs from other ewes, long before she was due to deliver her own. The first time it happened, I thought she had given birth overnight. But then later that day I heard the lamb bleating, and discovered the "mom" didn't even had an udder yet. I thought something was wrong with her so I took both ewe and lamb home and started to bottle-feed the lamb (artificial colostrum first). Two months later, when all ewes and their lambs had been moved to another meadow, I was doing my daily inspection tour when I discovered a tiny little lamb in the grass. I thought, 'That can not be, all of the ewes have given birth.' Then here comes this ewe, the one I mentioned above, and I saw that she had a big, swollen udder. It was only then that I realized that this was her lamb and that she'd stolen the other from another ewe's set of twins right after it was born.

The second time she had stolen one of twins that already were about two weeks old. She wouldn't let it go and was fighting off the lamb's true mom. It took me quite a while and a lot of running around before I could catch her. I had to take her away from the other ewes and kept her in the barn until she delivered her own babies three weeks later.

Sick Ewe and Triplet Lambs on the Bottle

A Story of Triplet Rejected Lambs

This year I had an ewe who was carrying a heavy load. I reckoned she had twins inside. The last week of her pregnancy she could hardly stand up, she tripped a lot over her own feet, but she still ate well.

The birth went very well and quickly, but she didn't react at all to the screaming triplets that had come out. She didn't reject them either, but she turned away when the lambs tried to find her nipples. So I checked if everything down there was in order, only to find that this ewe only had a very small udder with hardly any milk in it. Last year there had been no problem at all with this ewe.

I called the vet to find out what could be the matter. He told me that probably due to the space these triplets took inside the belly, there wasn't enough room for the stomach to contain a lot of the necessary food. So in fact this ewe was starving herself to death, giving all she got to her triplets inside. After the birth, she was weak and needed all her strength to keep herself going.

This was the first time I have encountered this in 30 years of breeding.

It Is Very Important That a Ewe and her Lamb Have Time to Bond.

A lamb and its mother.
A lamb and its mother. | Source
Triplet lambs.
Triplet lambs. | Source

Especially with a breed like ours, which is still so close to nature, you have to be careful to not disturb the bonding between the ewe and her newborn lamb. The ewe might not object to her normal caretaker (the breeder), but she might object to strangers touching her lamb. Strangers have a scent she doesn't know. If a stranger picks up the lamb and holds it for a while, the lamb may take on their scent. The ewe might not recognize her lamb anymore and will reject it. Sometimes I let friends watch a birth, but always from a distance.

It is essential to give the mom and child the time to bond. When they're giving birth out in the field, a ewe will always find a place away from the other sheep, somewhere in a corner of the meadow. She will stay there sometimes for several days, until she thinks it's time to introduce her lambs to the other sheep. Some ewes are so protective that they will attack a ewe or lamb that comes too close. This year even I got a head bang from a ewe when I tried to see if her lamb was a boy or a girl. "Hands off!' she said. "It's mine."

Caring for a Rejected Lamb

Give the Lamb Colostrum Within 24 Hours of Birth

All lambs must drink a certain amount of colostrum right after birth and within 24 hours, or they will be vulnarable to all kind of diseases and will die sooner or later.

The colostrum contains all kinds of stuff to protect the lamb from getting sick. You can get colostrum either by milking the ewe, or if that doesn't work you can use colostrum from cows or goats. You can do that beforehand and keep it in the freezer in small cubes so it will take not too long to melt.

Nowadays you can also buy artificial colostrum. Each breeder should have two or three packs on hand when the lambing season starts, just to be on the safe side, because ewes often lamb at night.

If you don't have all of this on hand, another possibility is the following recipe:

  • One quart fresh raw cow or goat milk (use good quality pasteurized cow's milk if raw is not available).
  • Two egg yolks.
  • Two teaspoons of glucose or lactose (if unavailable, use sugar).
  • One teaspoon cod liver oil.
  • Mix well and give to the lamb in small portions.

This formula however doesn't contain any of the antibodies that lambs need. As lambs don't get immunity via the placenta before birth, they have to ingest it through colostrum. This formula might, however, keep the lamb alive until you can get colostrum from elsewhere.

Bottle-feeding a lamb.
Bottle-feeding a lamb. | Source

Coaxing Another Ewe to Adopt a Rejected Lamb

One of my ewes with her adopted lamb (left) and her own lamb (right). Adoption of other lambs in this breed hardly ever happens.
One of my ewes with her adopted lamb (left) and her own lamb (right). Adoption of other lambs in this breed hardly ever happens. | Source

Most ewes won't accept the lamb of another ewe, but sometimes you're lucky. It can only be done if you have two or more ewes delivering lambs at about the same time.

Getting another ewe to adopt a lamb that is not their own is difficult. There are several methods you can try, but you have to be very careful because you could end up with another lamb you have to bottle-feed. If the ewe you have in mind gets too stressed, she might reject her own lamb too, and that is not what you want.

Some used methods to get a lamb adopted:

  • Smear the rejected lamb in with the birth fluid of the other ewe and put it in front of her. She might think she delivered twins. There is a small chance you can deceive the ewe. It has never worked for me though.
  • Some breeders who have a stillborn lamb remove that lamb's skin and put the skin over the rejected lamb. Put the lamb in front of the ewe who lost her lamb. I have never tried this.
  • There are so-called "adoption sprays" which you use on both lambs, both the rejected and not rejected in an effort to deceive the mom. This has never worked for me.

Sometimes you get lucky and a ewe is overwhelmed by motherly feelings and reacts very strongly to the sound of a distressed, rejected lamb. This happens sometimes with ewes who had lambs before and it happened to one of mine just at the right time. The ewe voluntarily adopted a rejected lamb at the moment she was in labour of her own lambs. I was so happy, I could have kissed her for taking the upcoming bottle-feeding load off my shoulders.

If You Have to Bottle-Feed

When a lamb cannot nurse off a ewe and the breeder decides to bottle-feed, the bottle-feeding must continue for at least two months, but preferable a bit longer. It is time-consuming. I only do it if I think the lamb has a fair chance of growing into a healthy sheep. To raise a weak lamb at all costs is not good for you, the lamb, and certainly not for your herd if you want to keep the breed healthy and strong.

Newborn lambs drink little amounts, but often, so as a start you have to feed them every two hours. You can either use a beer bottle with a rubber teat or you can buy a special lamb feeding bottle. I've used both during the past years, but lately I prefer the feeding bottles. They allow you to know exactly how much the lamb is drinking because they have a graduation scale printed on them.

A healthy lamb does not necessarily need to be fed at night. It will survive the night without and is all the more willing to drink early in the morning when it's hungry. If you have a very weak lamb, then you must feed it at night too. For the first days, it can be a bit difficult to get the lamb to drink from the bottle. You have to keep trying over and over until he or she grasps it.

Feeding schedule for the first week: Every two hours from early morning to late evening.

  • 8:00 a.m.
  • 10:00 a.m.
  • 12:00 p.m.
  • 2:00 p.m.
  • 4:00 p.m.
  • 6:00 p.m.
  • 8:00 p.m.
  • 10:00 p.m.

If you go to bed late, then give the last feeding at midnight.

  • After the first two weeks, feedings can be spaced to every three hours, but don't forget to increase their portion a bit too.
  • In the second month, the lambs will increase their portions but drink less often, just like human babies. Slowly increase the hours between feeding times, the lamb will be drinking a much larger portion than in the beginning. Follow the instructions on the package and be a bit creative. If a lamb keeps bleating, it's not getting enough milk.

Keep Lamb Warm and With Other Sheep

Some breeders separate an abandoned lamb from the other sheep and put it in a small box under a hanging heating lamp. I never do that, because then the lamb is isolated and when it's not among its own kind. It is possible for the lamb to forget it is a lamb and not a human being, because it will associate itself with its caretaker.

Back in 2001, when the foot and mouth disease exploded over Europe, I had an abandoned lamb. We were not allowed to move any sheep, but instead of letting it die in the meadow I took it home to bottle-feed it. As I was almost the first person it saw, the lamb thought I was her mom and she followed me everywhere. It was of course cute to see, but when I brought it back to the meadow after two months, the other sheep scared the hell out of her and she ran away from them, screaming for help.

She would run to people passing by the meadow, screaming her lungs out and following them all the way to the end of the meadow. It took her several weeks to learn to be a sheep again. Whenever I came into the meadow, she would come up and walk right in front of me, making me fall over her. In the end I had to sell her, because I kept stepping on her.

From then on, I have kept abandoned lambs in the company of other sheep. For the first week I keep them in the barn until the lamb knows that her food is coming from me. They learn fast and within a day or two they will come running over when you call them.

Using Powdered Milk

Like you would use special powdered formula for a human baby, there's a special powder milk for lambs. It containes all the minerals and vitamins that lambs need. Be sure to buy the right one, not milk for calves, and never use cow's milk that humans drink.

Normally shops that sell farm animal food supplies will surely have this milk replacer available. Don't buy the small bags; buy ake the big ones right away because you will need more than one until bottle-feeding is done.

The bags include directions for how to dilute the formula with water. Follow those directions, or your lamb willl get sick. The first poop the lamb makes should be black. After that the color will be bright yellow and it can be very sticky stuff. It may stick to the lamb's tail and legs. Watch out that the tail doesn't get "glued" to its behind, or the lamb won't be able to get its poop out. You can clean its behind with a cloth and warm water.

A Baby Bottle Nipple Is Not Suitable for Lambs

So, why can't I feed a lamb with a baby bottle? Well, the difference lies in the length of the nipples. Women have short nipples and ewes have long teats. Using a nipple made for a human baby, the lamb won't be able to get a good grip. You can try it if nothing else is available, but it won't be easy for the lamb drink enough milk. In almost every store that sells farm animal supplies, you can find special lamb nursery bottles with the right size nipples.

Bottle-Feeding my Lambs

Put the lamb in such a position that its head is away from you. Make sure the lamb can't back up. At first you have to open its mouth and put the nipple in. Squeeze it a bit so the lamb will taste some milk. Most of the time it starts sucking.
Put the lamb in such a position that its head is away from you. Make sure the lamb can't back up. At first you have to open its mouth and put the nipple in. Squeeze it a bit so the lamb will taste some milk. Most of the time it starts sucking. | Source
Sometimes you need to use some pressure (open the mouth) to get the nipple in and holding the head under the chin keeps the head in the right position. Make sure the lamb won't suck air.
Sometimes you need to use some pressure (open the mouth) to get the nipple in and holding the head under the chin keeps the head in the right position. Make sure the lamb won't suck air. | Source
After a day or two they know who's feeding them and when they get stronger you can change position.
After a day or two they know who's feeding them and when they get stronger you can change position. | Source
After one or two weeks I teach them to drink from the milk bar and when they know where to find it, they all move to the meadow. Then you only have to fill the tank two or three times a day and they can drink whenever they want.
After one or two weeks I teach them to drink from the milk bar and when they know where to find it, they all move to the meadow. Then you only have to fill the tank two or three times a day and they can drink whenever they want. | Source

Lambs Must Be Bottle-Fed for at Least Two Months

If you want the lambs to grow up healthy, you need to bottle feed them at least until they are about two or two and a half months old. By that time, I myself give them one or two bottles a day (or fill the milk bar once a day) until they are three months old, but that's because our breed is a slowly growing breed.

At the age of about two weeks, the lambs start to nibble on grass or hay and when they grow older you notice that they start chewing their cut too, but they still need their milk.

When you watch ewes, feeding their lambs, you can see that the ewe gets less and less patience when the lambs want to drink. They too decrease their feeding times slowly until they refuse to let them drink at all. Lambs of two months old still need some extra food and you can give that in the form of lamb concentrates.

One main different thing in the food need of our breed to other breeds, is that our breed needs copper in their minerals. If they don't get it or don't get enough, they get very sick in the long run. So a bucket with minerals containing copper is essential for their health. Every piece of meadow is different in how many natural minerals and vitamines it containes. Providing them as an extra to the sheep is a must and they won't overeat themselves, they just take what they need. Some years they don't empty one bucket, other years they eat 3 of them. One never can tell.

If you should obtain a few ewes/lambs, please make some inquiries about their food/mineral/vitamines needs, because they can be quite different for different breeds. What one sheep breed needs, could well kill another.

What if There Are More Lambs to Feed?

In case you have more than one lamb to bottle-feed, look for multi-teat milk bar feeders. You can teach multiple lambs to drink from these feeders. It takes some time, because some lambs are smart and some are not or are just stubborn.

The down side of above milk bar feeders is that you don't have any control about the amount of milk each lamb really drinks. The strong lambs will take the biggest portions and the weak lambs often get not enough. I therefor replaced my multi-teat milk bar feeder with a multi bottle milk bar feeder which gives you exact control over how much every lamb gets.

Last year (2015) due to circomstances, I had to bottle-feed 8 lambs at the same time. In the video below you can see how I managed that.

Creative Breeders Feeding Abandoned Lambs

A donkey feeding a lamb.
A donkey feeding a lamb. | Source

Not all donkeys will allow this! It just happened that this sheep breeder also breeds donkeys and this one was willing to let the lambs drink if the owner held her head.

I'd Rather See This During Lambing Season


Feeding Supplemental Mix

Sheep mix is supplemental food for pregnant ewes, as they need extra nutrition to carry out their pregnancy and to produce more milk. You can feed lambs a special supplemental mix from the age of three to four weeks.

Sheep mix consists of grained dried nutrition including all the minerals they need. It really helps the lambs to prepare for winter. Lambs born in late summer especially benefit from sheep mix, because by the time they start eating grass, the grass is low in vitamins.

The length of time you have to feed sheep mix depends on the condition of ewes and lambs. I stop feeding sheep mix when the grass is growing again in spring and the sheep and lambs can eat the new grass.

Ewe with Lambs

Lambs like to climb, either on their mom or on something else.
Lambs like to climb, either on their mom or on something else. | Source

Don't hesitate to ask questions or make comments here.

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      Vivian 5 weeks ago

      Hi Titia ;is very nice to heard from you again ,thank you soo much!my lamb had the artificial colostrum .because when we find her she is almost dead,her sister is already drinking and walking!she can't even lift her head!thanks again!

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 5 weeks ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      #Vivian; Well that could be a bit difficult to do because 1. the lamb has forgotten how to drink mom's milk and 2. mom's milk tastes different from the bottle milk. So you have to teach the lamb to drink with his mom again. You should let the lamb get very hungry and then try to get the nipple of the mom in the lamb's mouth while squeezing the nipple so milk will come out. Try and try again.

      Question: did you give the lamb either mom's colostrum or artificial colostrum within 24 hours of his birth?

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      Vivian 5 weeks ago

      Thank you so much !now her mother want her back!but she doesn't know how to drink milk from the mother!what can I do to help her? Please help!

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      Titia Geertman 6 weeks ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      #Vivian: Never give a 6 day old lamb water, it will get sick. You need to give it special lambs' milk every 2/3 hours at least 5/6 times a day.

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      Frances Toney 6 weeks ago

      Thank you for your response. I will look that sight up. I too noticed the similarity to your Drenthe Heathe sheep.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 6 weeks ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      #Frances Toney: I don't know the breed so I googled it and came upon a breeders Association. I'm not allowed to put the link here, but if you put 'Hog Island Sheep' in your browser, you surely will find the website and some breeders who can answer your question better then I can. Good luck, it's a nice breed, a bit similar to my Drenthe Heathe Sheep.

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      Frances Toney 6 weeks ago

      Hello Titia Geertman, I have three Hog Island lambs. Do you know what their mineral needs could be. I cannot find any information on the internet.

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      Titia Geertman 3 months ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Hi Claudia, if it's runny dirreha than I think you should call a vet. The yellow poop should be a bit sticky, but shouldn't be running.

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      Claudia 3 months ago

      My 8 day old lamb was doing fine drinking supplements lamb formula. He stil dinks, not as much and not as often, but now started to have yellow runny dirrreha. What can I do to help my lamb

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 9 months ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      # Valery, sorry I wasn't around for a while. The lambs need to be bottlefed for at least another month and you can put them back into the flock at any time. It's normal that the adult ewes don't want them to come too close to them and they will show that by banging them away. The lambs will learn very quickly to avoid these bangings. In open field they will not get hurt like in a closed barn, because they can get away. It's a normal behaviour, they need to learn to know their place in the flock.

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      Valerie 9 months ago

      I have a four week old set of triplets thatbthe mother excepted the largest and was tossing the other two around the barn and grinding them into the floor and walls of the barn,. By the time I noticed both were quite crippled. We took them away to bottle feed. Once stable, a week later, we used the chicken tractor to set them in amongst the flock. Everyone come to say hi...their mom came with murder in her, having a go at them, thankfully the wire enclosure stopped her. So now they are separated and a healthy four weeks old, starting to eat feed, grass, and drink water. I have a butcher date for their nasty mother. My question is how do i introduce the orphans ewes backninto the flock and at what time?

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 12 months ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Hi Quiltgirikfo, sorry for my late answer, I was away for a few days. A lamb of 7 days old should poop bright yellow poop, which quite often is a bit sticky. You should check her behind, because sometimes when the yellow poop is too sticky, it will cling to her behind, shutting off the anus. In that case you should hold the lamb's behind in a bucket of warm water for the poop to soften while trying to get it off. If a newborn lamb wouldn't poop at all it would be dead within a few days. Four times a day feeding is a bit low for a one week old lamb, it should at least get 6 feedings a day. You don't have to feed it during the night. A lamb doesn't eat anything until they're about 2 to 3 weeks old, then they'll start nibbling on some solid food. Be careful not to feed too much grain, because it can ferment and then burn their stomach.

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      Quiltgirlkfo 12 months ago

      Really Ed some help. One of our friends had a 5 day old lamb whose mother rejected. Friend was bottle feeding. We took her on. We have a farm but no sheep. I have been bottle feeding her 4 times per day, taking hire for walks at least twice daily. Oh, she is at this writing 7 days old. She appears to be happy and healthy. Silly though it seems, I am concerned she hasn't pooped yet. She shows a little interest in alfalfa and a little grain feed but doesn't eat any. She spends a good portion of the day in a good sized pin with shelter as well as in a very large box in the bedroom at night. She sleeps through. So, how concerned should I be that I have not seen any poop yet. She urinates just fine. Thanks much.

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      Titia Geertman 12 months ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      #Katie: Yes that happens and it's probably the reason why they sold them. By all means leave the lamb with its mom and other twin. It will learn very quickly to avoid the head bangs. Did you check the ewes nipples to see if milk is coming out of both? As the lamb is smaller than the other one, you might consider feeding it every two hours, because it has to catch up. As long as the lamb gets enough warm milk to drink at regular hours it's ok. Ewes don't keep their lambs warm, the lambs often cuddle up together and if not, it's not a problem either, unless the lamb is not vivid at all.

      Talk to the lamb while bottle feeding it so it gets to know your voice and connects it with feeding time. Within a week it will respond to your voice and will come running to you to get its milk.

      I have to bottle feed one of my lambs this year too and it's doing quite well. She comes running to me, drinks all the milk in no time and then goes back to the flock.

      Good luck.

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      Katie 12 months ago

      Hi, we are beginners at raising sheep and just bought our first East Friesian ewe with two 3 week old twin lambs. Right away we noticed one was much smaller and the mom was not letting it get any milk and pushing it away with its head. Yet, when we pick it up to bottle feed her, the ewe gets agitated. They all sleep together at night as well. So while she won't give it any milk, she still seems to be protective of her lamb. Is this normal and is it dangerous to keep separating the lamb from her mom and twin to keep it warm and bottle feed her? I feel like at one point if we keep doing that, the ewe will abandon the lamb altogether and not even keep it warm at night..

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 13 months ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      @DandelionsElise: you said that the lamb was a few days old when you got him and that he had black tar like stool. I think your neighbour wasn't telling you the truth about this lamb's age, because the black tar like stool is the very first stool a lamb gets within one or two hours after birth. After that it turns yellow (from the milk) and that can be very stickie sometimes. You have to pay attention if it's very stickie because when it dries up it's getting very hard and in some cases it will close up the lamb's anus. You have to clean it with a cloth and warm water.

      So if you got him on Feb 6 and he had black stool, he's born at Feb 6 and is now (Feb 12) only a week old. If you feed him every 4 hours, he's not getting enough milk on a whole day and likely will slowly get undernourished, resulting in growth resession.

      However the biggest problem is that it's not known if the lamb got any colostrum from its mom or the artificial powder colostrum. If not, he could be in serious trouble because he will be very susceptible to all kind of diseases. A lamb needs enough colostrum within 24 hours after birth. Giving it after 24 hours it doesn't have any effect anymore.

      Another thing is that you didn't mention if it's a ram or ewe. If it's a ram and he has the luck to stay alive, you won't be able to keep him as an adult ram, because he will certainly start to attack you by that time. If it's a ewe it won't be a problem, ewes never grow to be aggressive, but rams do.

      The lamb will start actually eating some grass around the age of two weeks. That doesn't mean he doesn't need milk anymore. A lamb needs milk until he's about 2,5 or 3 months old.

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      DandelionsElise 13 months ago

      Hi! I'm VERY new at "farming." Right now a neighbor who breeds goats and sheep gave me a lamb. I'm assuming he's about a week old or less. I'm not sure and neither was my neighbor. He had told me that he noticed for a few days the mother wasn't letting him nurse. He told me if he couldn't get anyone to take him that he'd die. He says he didn't have the time to care for him. I've had him since 2/6/16. So far so good it looks like. He drinks about 8oz every 4hrs. I take him to my little ranch every afternoon to run around with the dogs and pigs. I have noticed he has tried to eat the grass a little. Am I doing ok with him so far? Also......when I first got him he had black tar like stool, then turned into yellow semi solid stool, now he's having yellow pudding like stool. Is this normal and when can I expect normal stool?

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      Titia Geertman 14 months ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      @Amy, if the mom is accepting the lamb and the lamb seems happy and joyful and is not bleating all the time, then I think it's getting enough milk from the ewe. A lamb that's hungry will bleat a lot and will not hup around, but will stay in a corner. Some ewes don't get a big utter, specially not when it's the first time. How come you lost the other one? Wasn't the mom accepting both lambs? Keep an eye on this one and if you think it's not getting enough milk, you can give it an extra bottle. Normally the mom wouldn't mind.

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      Amy 14 months ago

      I have a Momma that delivered two babies two days ago... We lost one thru the first night but the other is up and walking around. He is trying to nurse but the mother seems to be producing very little milk. Should I bottle feed him? Will she continue to let him nurse if I bottle feed him?

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      Titia Geertman 18 months ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Dee, sorry for my late answer, I wasn't here for a few days.

      If the lamb acts normal and is playful and is taking his milk, than there's nothing to worry about. A sick lamb doesn't do all those things. The yellow poop doesn't keep being sticky either, so it might well be that he's pooping but that you don't see it. However if the lamb has a lot of sticky poop which is still on his bottom, you should remove that with warm water, because it will get hard as a rock and might 'glue' his tail to his behind and then it's very difficult for him to get his poop out.

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