It is poddy lamb season again! Rearing poddy lambs can be a lot of fun (and hard work!). It is very rewarding when things go well, but heartbreaking when they don't. Here are some tips to help you raise happy and healthy little lambs :)
🐏 If your lamb is cold and/or wet when you find them make it a priority to get them dry and warm asap. Newborn lambs can become hypothermic and use up their little energyu reserves very quickly if they become cold.
🐏 If possible make sure the lamb gets some colostrum. Colostrum is the concentrated first milk produced by the ewe. It is nutrient dense and contains antibodies that help strengthen the lambs immune system and helps it fight infections. Colostrum from a healthy ewe can be stored in the freezer and kept for up to 12 months. If colostrum is not available, a powdered colostrum such as we sell in the clinic is the next best thing. It is important to never use a home made colostrum substitute containing egg - it is illegal to feed livestock animal products such as eggs, blood and meat, it contains no antibodies and is poorly digested by the lamb.
🐏Cheap baby bottles, or a soft drink bottle with a teat work well for feeding. Ensure all feeding equipment are thoroughly cleaned and that the hole in the teat is not too big.
🐏 Have somewhere warm, dry, sheltered and easy to keep clean for your lamb (eg straw bedding/newspaper). Hygiene is very important to help prevent illness.
🐏Ideally use lamb milk replacer containing 30% fat, 23% protein and 23% lactose and mix according to the instructions on the bag. It is important to mix according the ratio on the pack to ensure the milk will form a clot in the lambs stomach. Diluting or feeding a more concentrated milk than recommended can cause digestive upset. In general calf milk replacer is not suitable for lambs as it is too high in lactose, although people have successfully used human grade powdered milk.
🐏Use the feeding guidelines on the bag to guide the quantity and frequency of feeds. For the first week at least ensure the milk is at body temperature when fed, cooler milk can be fed after 3 weeks and may help reduce the incidence of bloat.
🐏Have hay, lamb weaning pellets or grass as well as fresh water available after the first week.
🐑 Bloat is a serious problem in many poddy lambs, it happens when there is an overgrowth of certain bacteria in the abomasum (the 4th stomach). Risk factors for developing bloat are overfeeding, especially warm milk, too fast a milk flow, inappropriate milk formula or incorrectly mixed milk or poor hygiene. Adding a tablespoon of acidophilus yoghurt per 500ml of milk and feding this cold rather than warmed can help prevent bloat.
🐏 Vaccinate lambs at 6-8 weeks of age and mark them at the time of their second booster vaccination 4 weeks later.
🐏 Seek vet advice if your lamb has a painful, swollen joint, diarrhoea, seems bloated or is dull or lethargic