Top tips for managing surplus lambs
Every flock will have some lambs that either need to be adopted onto another ewe or be artificially reared. Deciding which route to take will depend on the availability of a suitable foster mother and the physical condition of the foster lamb. Fostering will only be successful if the lamb is fit and healthy, has had adequate colostrum, and is fostered onto a healthy ewe with plenty of milk and good maternal instincts.
Lambs can be successfully reared artificially without the problems of fostering onto an unwilling ewe. There are several methods available. With any system though, combining a good quality milk replacer, with good husbandry and good organisation can save hours and produce quality lambs.
Top Tips for artificially rearing lambs:
- Teat height: teats should be positioned 12-15 inches from the ground.
- Number of teats: Ensure a maximum of 10 lambs per teat for ad-lib systems – 6-8 is ideal.
- Water: provide access to fresh, clean water at a height which is easily accessible to lambs at all times.
- Dry Feed: top quality creep feed should be offered fresh at least once a day, with refusals being fed to older stock (e.g. ewes).
- Roughage: do not feed ad-lib roughage (e.g. hay) during milk feeding as this can depress concentrate intake and delay weaning.
- Group size: have a maximum of 25 lambs per pen. Keep similar age and size together.
- Environment: a clean, dry straw-bedded lying area should be provided which is well ventilated, but draught-free.
- Hygiene: all feeding equipment should be thoroughly cleaned each day and disinfected twice weekly. Inspection: check the lambs at least twice a day.
Train lambs to suckle the teat: be patient! Remove the lamb from the ewe at 24hrs (48hrs max). Leave the lamb for a few hours to become hungry. Introduce to the teat gently.
How to mix lamb milk replacer
Mix 200 grams of Volac Lamlac with water to make up 1 litre of mixed milk (20% concentration). E.g. 200g Volac Lamlac + 800ml water = 1L mixed milk.
- If feeding warm: mix and feed at 39°C/102°F. Don't use hot water (above 45°C) to mix the milk replacer as this may damage the sensitive proteins which are essential to lamb performance.
- If feeding cold: mix and feed cold. Do not mix warm and allow to cool.