Step by step guide to raise Sheep Lambs

Feeding Lambs with Milk Replacer

Reviewed by Veterinarian for accuracy

When, how and how much are frequent queries when it comes to feeding milk replacer to lambs. Getting this right can be the key to raising healthy, profitable lambs.

When can you feed lamb milk replacer

Lambs can begin being fed milk replacer at around a day old. Newborn lambs should always receive colostrum as soon as possible after birth, preferably within the first 6 hours of life. This should be continued for the first 24 hours.

The newborn lamb should receive a minimum of  210ml/kg  bodyweight of colostrum within the first 24 hours. (e.g. 5kg  lamb should receive 1050 ml).

How should I rear my surplus or orphan lambs?

There are many different methods for rearing surplus or orphan lambs; with pros and cons to each. The method chosen will depend on the number of lambs being reared, and facilities available.

How much lamb milk replacer to feed?

Concentration: 200g of Milk replacer + 800ml water = 1L of milk*

*Do not add 200g to a full litre of water as this will create 1.2 Litres overall, which will dilute the concentration, the total volume of powder and water together should total a litre.

  • Day 1-3: 1 litre split into 4-5 feeds
  • Day 4-7: 1 litre split into 4 feeds
  • Day 7 to weaning: 1.5 litres split into 4 feeds initially, reducing to two feeds until weaning.

How do I mix the lamb milk replacer correctly?

  • Use scales to accurately measure out the correct amount of milk powder.
  • Add half the water (below 45°C) and add all the powder.
  • Whisk until smooth. Top up with water until you reach the desired volume.
  • Whisk again.

What temperature should I mix and feed lamb milk replacer at?

Water used to mix milk replacer should always be below 45°C - otherwise you will damage the milk proteins which are essential to Lamb performance.

  • Bottle Feeding - Mix and Feed at 39°C.
  • Adlib feeding and automatic feeders - Initially Train lambs at 39°C and once trained, feed at 20°C; as this will help prevent over consumption.
  • If feeding cold: mix and feed cold. Do not mix warm and allow to cool as this will encourage lambs to gorge whilst the milk is still warm.

Do I need to feed anything else alongside lamb milk replacer?

Yes, lambs should have access to fresh water, straw in racks, and a top quality creep feed at all times. Refreshing creep feed at least once a day will encourage intake.

General Feeding recommendations for lamb milk replacer

How should I raise my orphan lambs?
How should I raise my orphan lambs?

  • Always follow the feeding instructions on the bag.
  • If lambs are weak and unable to suck, they should be fed colostrum and/or a lamb milk replacer using a tube feeder.
  • Do not increase recommended volumes as lambs are susceptible to bloating and/or scouring from overfeeding.
  • If feeding adlib, do not dilute the concentration, as this will cause lambs to drink more and increase urination!
  • If feeding adlib, do not let the powder run out, as this will cause lambs to gorge when it is refilled.
  • When bottle feeding, check the hole in the teat is not too big as this can also cause bloating.
  • **Tip the bottle upside down. If the milk is free flowing from the teat the hole is too big.**
  • Clean ALL feeding utensils and equipment after each feeding: rinse in lukewarm water, wash with a detergent in hot water, rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly with a clean towel.

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