News & Advice

Getting great results for orphan lambs and kids

Jul 4, 2019 | Dry stock, Dry stock animal health & welfare, Sheep

Ali Cullum, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Morrinsville

Some flocks hand rear lambs born as orphans or triplets, and many families hand rear Pet Day lambs and kids. The same principles as for calf rearing apply to baby lambs and goats: they need to be dry, warm, draught free and to receive good quality colostrum as soon as possible (within 6 hours) after birth. Colostrum can be sourced from the ewe, and if you have a ewe with a single lamb it is possible to milk extra colostrum off her and to store it in the deep freeze. Bovine colostrum (gold quality) can be used for lambs and kids, and freeze-dried bovine colostrum is available from Agricultural merchants and veterinarians. The lamb and kid need up to 10% of their body weight as colostrum in the first 6 hours of life. Most lambs (depending on breed and whether they are a triplet, twin or single) weigh between 2 and 5kg at birth. So 10% of their live weight as colostrum is 200 – 500ml.

After the first 24 hours you can transition from colostrum to a lamb/kid milk replacer. Sheep and goat milks have different composition to cow’s milk, so to use a species dedicated milk replacer will give better growth.
Antahi have developed a great new tube feeder to use if the lamb or kid is unable to suck at first and needs stomach tubing.

It has:

  • Easy-hold handle with option for one-handed operation
  • Specialised tube tip – prevents inadvertent airway insertion
  • Safety indicator strips – know when the tube is safely positioned
  • Stable base – allows you to pre-fill the vial
  • 240ml capacity – one large or two smaller feeds without refilling
  • Gravity flow – not pressurised, safer and easy to control

Your lambs or kids will also need early vaccination against clostridial disease and may require other vaccinations as well depending on your farm. Ask your veterinarian for advice.

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