Monday, May 12, 2003
Sheep & Goats > Lambing
We have a young ewe who has just lambed for the first time. Between that, and I think a curious dog interupting, she had abandoned both lambs and refused anything to do with them. We do not have a stanchion available, but penned them all together and using some old dog collars and ropes we were able to position her so that she could still move enough to eat, drink, lay down and stand up. The first day I went out several times to help calm her down and show the lambs how to nurse. We helped supplement them with some cow colustrum from a local dairy. This first day they were very vocal and would drink quite a bit from the bottles. By the second day, the ewe still hadn't settled down much but the lambs weren't crying as much and they weren't showing much of an interest in the bottles we took out. My husband has checked the ewe she was milking fine the first day but by the second day he didn't think she could possibly be milking enough to feed them -- we have started giving her grain to help that! He is quite insistent on making the lambs take milk from the bottle, thinking that they just don't like the cow's milk as much now that they've had a taste of sheep milk. I'm of the mind that they would eat the cow's milk willingly if they were really hungry. They are still a bit bony through the hips, but it doesn't seem that their bellies are all that empty. Is it possible that they are still getting enough to satisfy them even though we're not able to? Are we doing the right thing by forcing her into nursing, and are the odds fairly favorable that she will eventually do it on her own?
You have a number of factors going on that are not helping.First, ideally you would position the ewe so that she cannot see the lambs. I think you need to determine if the ewe or you will raise the lambs. By this time I would guess that the lambs are used to the feel of the nipple of the milk bottle you are using in their mouths and since the teats of the ewe do not feel the same and probably because she is resisting, the lambs are getting more from the bottle than the ewe and so will prefer that milk. I suggest that you go to the local Farm and Fleet and buy lamb milk replacer as that is correctly formulated for the lambs. Cow's milk will be helpful from a colostrum standpoint, but will not meet the nutritional needs of the lambs. I suggest that you raise the lambs ons the milk bottle and make a finely ground high protein ration available to them as early as possible and wean the lambs at a month of are as long as they are drinking milk. Also, make water available to them asap. I suggest you dry the ewe up and remove her from the area. Weather you keep her or not is your decision. Sometime they will be more responsive to lambs the second time they lamb. If she comes from a family of ewes that have not accepted their lambs easily or quickly, i would ship her. Good Luck... AR Cobb, Sheep Extension Specialist.
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