Colostrum the fuel for life
Colostrum is the first feed for the newborn lamb and the key to survival. It is a highly nutritious energy source which helps the lamb to maintain body temperature and survive; it also contains antibodies which are vital to help protect the newborn lamb against disease. The feeding of sufficient good quality colostrum immediately after birth will reduce losses from both hypothermia and disease. Careful feeding of the in-lamb ewe is critical to stimulate the production of quality colostrum and ensures that lambs get the best start in life.
Remember the 3Q rule: Quickly, Quantity, Quality
- Feed colostrum as soon as possible after birth, preferably within the first six hours. This is when the gut wall is most permeable, allowing for the large antibody molecules to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
- Provide small frequent feeds during the first 24 hours.
How much colostrum should you feed newborn lambs? We recommend:
- 50ml/kg live weight per feed
- A minimum 210ml/kg live weight within the first 24 hours
For lambs reared outdoors, increase the colostrum allowance by 15% to 20%.
The quality of colostrum will determine the level of antibodies present in the colostrum.
The quality is affected by:
- Ewe condition: body condition score 3 at tupping and vaccinate against infectious abortion and clostridial disease.
- Ewe parity: the number of previous lambings.
- Ewe health: healthy, well-nourished ewes are able to develop a healthy placenta which reaches its optimum size around day 90 of pregnancy when the placenta releases hormones which stimulate the lactating cells in the udder and colostrum starts developing three to five weeks before lambing.
While mothers colostrum is preferable, if ewe colostrum is unavailable, in short supply or of poor quality; then colostrum must be fed quickly from another source. Options include fresh or frozen colostrum from another ewe, bovine colostrum or a high quality natural alterative such as Volac's Lamb Volostrum.
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