Lambs are born with an immature digestive system, so in early life they cannot digest anything but milk. The lamb’s digestive system must undergo considerable development in order to cope as it gradually moves from a predominantly milk-based diet to a more complex, grass-based diet.
How to ensure effective development of the lambs digestive system
The speed of this development is not controlled by the lamb’s age or weight, but rather by the diet it is fed and the physical and chemical processes associated with its digestion. It is therefore essential that alongside the milk feed, the lamb has access to fresh water at all times and a top quality creep feed should be offered fresh at least once each day.
Effective development of the digestive system, specifically the rumen, will ensure that when the lamb is weaned and the milk portion of its diet is removed, it will be able to match its energy requirement through the intake of solid feed alone. This will prevent any set back in growth or performance.
For successful weaning, lambs should be:
- A minimum of 2.5 times their birth weight (9-10kg)
- A minimum of 35 days old
- Consuming 250g of solid feed per day
Weaning is most successfully achieved when Lamlac is withdrawn abruptly, provided that lambs are old enough and that the intake of solid feed is adequate. Lambs should have been eating solid feed for at least 10 days and be making use of the drinking water suply.
Weaning from restricted feeding:
Weaning from restricted feeding can be done by gradually reducing the milk given over the last week, by reducing the number of feeds per day and/or reducing the volume of milk per feed.
Weaning from an automatic or ad-lib feeding system (e.g. Ewe 2):
- Reduce the temperature to feed cold
- Do not dilute the milk as this will increase intakes and urine production
- Reduce the number of teats available
- Ensure plenty of fresh solid feed and water is available
Assembly of the Volac Ewe2 Feeder
Volac's Förster-Technik Auto Eco Lamb Feeder