Lambing‎ > ‎

Orphan Lambs


The ewe has rejected her lamb! What should I do?


How do I milk the ewe to get some colostrum to feed the lamb?

Blackbelly ewes have very small teats and are very difficult to hand-milk. The task will be complicated because the ewe will not want you touching her teats.
  1. Secure the ewe’s head in a stanchion or use a short lead to tie her to a pole or other immovable object.
  2. Try to distract the ewe by giving her some hay or grain.
  3. Use a small container with a wide mouth to milk into. I like using a 140-cc syringe sold by Premier because it is marked in 5cc increments as well as ounces; it is easy to hold up to the teat; and I can attach a stomach tube to it if I need to tube-feed the lamb.
  4. With your thumb and index finger, gently squeeze the teat high up near the udder and draw the milk down through the teat into the container. This is not an easy thing to do, so be patient and keep trying.
    1. Transfer the colostrum into a bottle or feed directly from the syringe using a stomach tube.

I have some frozen colostrum on hand. What do I do?

A 6-lb lamb born in a lambing shed that is 32 degrees F needs 480 cc of colostrum in the first 18 hours of life. The same lamb born outside will need a total of 570 cc. Feed the lambs 4 to 5 times in the first 18 hours of life if the lamb is unable to suckle on a ewe. When feeding lambs with a stomach tube, give no more than 20cc per pound of body weight. This is roughly 4 ounces per feeding in a 6 pound lamb (1 ml = 1 cc; 1 oz = 30 cc).

I don't have any colostrum. What do I do?

[The following information is taken verbatim (except where modified for smaller Blackbelly lambs) from Laura Lawson's book, Managing Your Ewe and Her Newborn Lambs. It is a great book and should also be on your list of things to get.]

If no colostrum on hand, prepare a newborn milk formula

Ingredients:
8 oz. baby bottle with nipple (a small plastic pop or juice bottle works great)
1 tsp butter
1 tsp dark Karo syrup
Canned evaporated milk (NOT condensed milk)
Add Baby Lamb Strength Oral or Hartz liquid pet Vitamin A&D plus oral liquid Vitamin E to one daily feeding. Probios dispersible powder should also be added to one feeding unless the lamb is being given this in a paste form.

Directions:
Enlarge nipple hole slightly with a hot needle.
Take the 8 oz baby bottle, put 1 tsp butter in it.
Set bottle in hot water to melt the butter.
Add 1 tsp of dark Karo syrup.
Fill the bottle with undiluted evaporated milk to the 8 oz mark. Heat until warm.
Add the Baby Lamb Strength Oral or pet Vitamin A&D plus liquid Vitamin E and Probios to the warmed milk once a day.

Another recipe for artificial colostrum

Here is a recipe for artificial colostrum:

Artificial Colostrum

850 mL (3 fl oz) goat milk or cow’s milk if goat milk isn’t available
1 egg
1 tsp cod liver oil
1 Tbsp sugar

Beat the egg and add it to the milk. Add cod liver oil and sugar and mix thoroughly.

Give the lamb about 170 mL of this mixture four times daily for the first 2 days.