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Caring for orphan lambs

Once lambing season is upon us occasionally we are left with orphan lambs, or if triplets are born then some may also need hand-rearing. Firstly orphans / hand-reared lambs will need to receive colostrum ideally from their dam or if this is not possible a manufacturers substitute can be used.

Hand-rearing takes a lot of time and hard work, but can be very rewarding. You will require either a large sterilized bottle with a rubber teat, or for multiple lambs you can use a sterile bucket with teats around it to make a multi-feeding station if you do not want multiple bottles.

Lambs will require a milk formula which is made from a milk substitute, cows milk is not acceptable. For the first four or five days the lambs will need feeding every 4 hours, after this period that can increase to 6-8 hours until weaning. The initial amount of milk can gradually be increased from 1 pint up to 3 pints at weaning. After the first week a small amount of concentrate feed such as Lamb Starter Grower can be introduced gradually alongside the milk. At around 6 weeks of age the lambs can be gradually weaned off the milk substitute and onto the Lamb Starter Grower which can be fed to appetite as the milk is diminished and withdrawn from the diet.

Throughout this whole process lambs should be housed in a clean warm environment with access to fresh clean water at all times, care should be taken with the depth of water to make sure they do not drown. Hand-reared lambs can either be turned out to graze or kept in with hay and concentrate.  

Key things to remember about hand-rearing are that routine is very important and once started should be stuck to. The other key point is hygiene, for the survival of your lambs good hygiene standards in pens and when storing milk substitute and using feeders is essential.
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The Smallholder Range, Norfolk Mill, Shipdham, Thetford, Norfolk, IP25 7SD
Tel: +44 (0)1362 822900. Email:
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