Raising lambs and kids artificially PDF Print E-mail

Raising lambs and kids artificially


By: Susan SchoenianSmall ruminant Info SheetWeb Site: http://www.sheepandgoat.com/

One of the problems with having a high lambing/kidding percentage (greater than 200%) is that you may end up with some lambs/kids that you have to raise artificially. While some ewes/does will be able to raise triplets, sometimes it may be wise to remove a lamb/kid from large litters in order to obtain more satisfactory weight gains.

Goat guyOf course, before initiating artificial feeding, you should first try to cross-foster the "extra" lambs/kids onto another ewe/doe that has sufficient milk to raise another. The best way to graft newly born lambs/kids is to rub the fetal membranes and fluids from the foster ewe's lamb(s) onto the lamb you wish to graft.

For older lambs/kids, you should put the foster ewe/doe into a head stanchion for three to five days. In a head stanchion, the ewe/doe will be able to eat and drink, but she will not be able to push the lambs/kids away and prevent nursing.

It is important that newborn lambs/kids consume adequate amounts ofcolostrum during their first 24 hours of life. Three ounces per pound of body weight, divided into several feedings, is generally recommended. It may be necessary to tube feed newborn lambs/kids. If colostrum is not available from the dam or another ewe/doe, cow colostrum can be used. When cow colostrum is used, 30% more should be fed to lambs.

Frozen colostrum should be thawed at room temperature or in a hot water bath. High heat or microwaves should not be used to thaw colostrum because they will destroy the antibodies in the milk.Most artificial colostrums (usually of bovine origin) are nutritional supplements. They do not contain antibodies and cannot replace real colostrum.

When artificially rearing lambs, it is recommended that they be fed milk replacer that has been specifically formulated for lambs. Calf milk replacer is generally unacceptable. Ewe's milk contains more fat, protein and minerals than cow's milk. In addition, the fat globules in lamb's milk are homogenized, and cow's milk contains excessive amounts of lactose that may cause bloat or digestive upset in lambs. Kids will also do better if they are fed milk replacer that has been specifically formulated for them. Goat milk contains more fat soluble vitamins and vitamin C than either ewe or cow milk. On the other hand, it is acceptable to rear lambs on fresh goat's milk.

Bucket feedingMilk replacer should be mixed according to the manufacturer's instructions. Because of the high fat content of lamb milk replacer, it should be mixed in warm water, then cooled and stored at 35 to 40 degrees F. Milk should be fed cold. With cold milk, there is less tendency for lambs/kids to overeat, thus helping to prevent, bloat, digestive upsets, and scours.

Small numbers of lambs/kids can be fed using individual bottles fitted with rubber teats. For the first few days of life, lambs/kids should be fed frequently. When they are three days old, they should be fed 8 ounces of milk replacer four times daily. At 10 days of age, feedings can be reduced to three per day at 12 ounces per feeding.

By the time the lambs/kids are three weeks old, two feedings of 16 ounces is appropriate. For larger numbers of lambs/kids, an automatic feeding system (self feeder or lamb bar) can be set up. Lambs/kids will drink cold milk from a lamb bar at frequent intervals, much like they would if they were nursing a ewe/doe.

In order to wean lambs/kids at an early age, it is important to get them consuming dry feed as soon as possible. By the time the lambs/kids are ten days of age, they should have access to a starter feed which is palatable and contains 18 to 20 percent crude protein. Young lambs/kids will consume more feed if is coarsely ground, though a pelleted ration may also be fed. Green, leafy hay and a source of fresh water should also be provided.

Lambs/kids should be vaccinated for overeating disease and tetanus at six weeks of age, followed by a booster two to four weeks later. They should be vaccinated at three weeks of age, if they did not receive adequate protection through the colostrum. Because milk replacer is expensive, lambs/kids should be weaned at an early age, such as 6 weeks. However, they should weigh a minimum of 20 lbs. before weaning.

Weaning should be abrupt and lambs/kids should be left in familiar surroundings at the time of weaning to minimize stress. If orphan lambs/kids are properly fed and managed, they should gain nearly as well as lambs/kids being raised on their dams. Information about artificially raising lambs/kids can be found on the web at http://www.sheepandgoat.com/feed.html#rearing

Copyright © 2003.

Resources and additional reading
Artificial Rearing of Lambs on Milk Replacer Diets - Oregon State University
Profitable Artificial Rearing of Lambs - Virginia TechPDF
Artificial Rearing of Lambs - Ontario, Canada
Artificial Methods of Rearing Goats - New South Wales, Australia
Tube feeding neonatal small ruminants - Washington State University

Created or last updated by Susan Schoenian on 21-Dec-2009 .