Tube Feeding lambs...rules of thumb

Robin2020

Member
Livestock Farmer
My first year lambing and sadly lost one yesterday....otherwise things went very well. I feel it may be my fault so want to learn for next year.

After finding the lamb (2nd of twins) fairly cold in the rain and no sign of standing, I warmed it for a while and gave it a tube of colostrum. He soon improved and was weak, shaky on feet, but appeared to be drinking from mum. Sorted I thought. I find it very hard to feel their tummy and gauge how full it is. To cut a long story short I stopped the tubes and left the lamb to feed from mum. Next day the lamb goes down hill quick, so injections from vet and regular tubes. He never regained strength and we had to call it a day.

How do people decide on when to stop /start tube feeding. I was always worried I may over-feed him. If I had continued maybe the outcome would have been different... It is so hard to judge if they are actually drinking from mum or just trying.... Maybe a good idea would be once you start tubes, continue for 24hrs at the set rate, and then leave them to it?? Just wondering how the experts gauge these critical decisions.

Gutted. All went so well until the last lamb. He was a reasonable size but incredibly thin, with a strange twitch when sleeping and never made a sound. Perhaps I had little chance and the fact he never stood when born tells a lot. The mother never seemed overly interested in the lamb either but would let it feed...I read that the ewes tend to know...
 

yellowbelly

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
N.Lincs
Don't beat yourself up just 'cos you lost a lamb. Sadly they don't all make it. Move on and concentrate on the live ones.

It sounds like you gave it every chance and did all the right things. There's only so much you can do, the lamb has to be viable in the first place for it to make it.

Like a lot of things to do with livestock, there aren't really any rules of thumb - it mainly comes down to experience and common sense. Just chalk it down to experience.

As far as ewes knowing about that sort of thing, well, yes I've seen them walk away with the other lamb and leave one that they thought wasn't viable.
They're not infalable though - some of the daft bu66ers don't want anything to do with perfectly good lambs :banghead: ..

...but that's just sheep for you :facepalm:
 
I know that colostrum powder varies greatly in their mix & quantity , but as a rule of thumb a lamb needs 50ml per kg of weight in the first 6hrs and 200ml per kg in the first 24hrs colostrum . You need to study all your lambs and make them stand , a happy lamb gets up stretches and the area between the last rib and the back leg should look level , if this area is very hollow then the lamb is hungry and when you tube the lamb you can see it fill out ( same when it suckles mum ) and it will look a little round . When a lamb goes in to suckle it waggles its tail but it will do this even if suckling skin /wool /an extra small teat / a sealed or blocked teat , but the stomach will not fill
 
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Electricfencer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Cotswolds
Youve had a bad year if youve lost one, but youve just got to forget it and move on, next year will be better!
I don’t think you will ever do better than loosing one. I wish I only lost one some days! As for the ewes knowing, most lambs I pick up from outside lambing that they have abandoned are pretty useless, some take an age to get on the feeder and some never do. The ewes know that they have to concentrate on the better lamb.
 

Jonp

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Gwent
I had a ewe reject her lamb straight after dropping him....he was blind.
Gave him injections from vet and had him living in caravan with me for two weeks. He's now my biggest lamb and can see fine and turned into a very annoying but amusing lad. So yes ewes know.
Another rejected her smallest twin which didn't look right...died no matter how hard I tried with it.
Never like that happening but that's sheep for you.
 
I don’t think you will ever do better than loosing one. I wish I only lost one some days! As for the ewes knowing, most lambs I pick up from outside lambing that they have abandoned are pretty useless, some take an age to get on the feeder and some never do. The ewes know that they have to concentrate on the better lamb.
This is very true. Like a cold spring where ewes are struggling and It comes rough they will keep dumping one
 

Robin2020

Member
Livestock Farmer
Don't beat yourself up just 'cos you lost a lamb. Sadly they don't all make it. Move on and concentrate on the live ones.

It sounds like you gave it every chance and did all the right things. There's only so much you can do, the lamb has to be viable in the first place for it to make it.

Like a lot of things to do with livestock, there aren't really any rules of thumb - it mainly comes down to experience and common sense. Just chalk it down to experience.

As far as ewes knowing about that sort of thing, well, yes I've seen them walk away with the other lamb and leave one that they thought wasn't viable.
They're not infalable though - some of the daft bu66ers don't want anything to do with perfectly good lambs :banghead: ..

...but that's just sheep for you :facepalm:
Thanks for the advice. Hopefully it wasn't a failing on my part.
 

Robin2020

Member
Livestock Farmer
I had a ewe reject her lamb straight after dropping him....he was blind.
Gave him injections from vet and had him living in caravan with me for two weeks. He's now my biggest lamb and can see fine and turned into a very annoying but amusing lad. So yes ewes know.
Another rejected her smallest twin which didn't look right...died no matter how hard I tried with it.
Never like that happening but that's sheep for you.
Good effort. Perhaps I will stick at it a bit longer next time like you.
 

Robin2020

Member
Livestock Farmer
I don’t think you will ever do better than loosing one. I wish I only lost one some days! As for the ewes knowing, most lambs I pick up from outside lambing that they have abandoned are pretty useless, some take an age to get on the feeder and some never do. The ewes know that they have to concentrate on the better lamb.
Yes but I have a very small flock (20) so should do better I feel. Interesting what you say about the abandoned lambs. The ewes seem pretty switched on.
 

Robin2020

Member
Livestock Farmer
I know that colostrum powder varies greatly in their mix & quantity , but as a rule of thumb a lamb needs 50ml per kg of weight in the first 6hrs and 200ml per kg in the first 24hrs colostrum . You need to study all your lambs and make them stand , a happy lamb gets up stretches and the area between the last rib and the back leg should look level , if this area is very hollow then the lamb is hungry and when you tube the lamb you can see it fill out ( same when it suckles mum ) and it will look a little round . When a lamb goes in to suckle it waggles its tail but it will do this even if suckling skin /wool /an extra small teat / a sealed or blocked teat , but the stomach will not fill
Thats really useful...thanks. I will use this next year.
 

twizzel

Member
I’ve got a similar number of ewes... don’t beat yourself up about losing 1 lamb. Learn from it (if there’s anything you should do different next time, sometimes there isn’t) then move on and focus on what’s alive.
 
I made myself a warming box, that has a weldmesh suspended floor and a fan heater underneath, and I have found it tremendously useful, anything that looks a bit cold and hypothermic goes in it, used it for dodgy looking calves as well.
 

Electricfencer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Cotswolds
Yes but I have a very small flock (20) so should do better I feel. Interesting what you say about the abandoned lambs. The ewes seem pretty switched on.
You have done very well to only lose one out of 20 ewes. That’s like me loosing 50 lambs and I wish that was the case. So well done and don’t worry to much about the odd loss.
 

Mc115reed

Member
I lost a few this time because I was flat out busy and every time I passed the pens I’d see the lamb up and sucking and thought they were doing mint then I’d come back past an hour later and they’d gone down hill fast... that’s when you realise the ewe had a bad bag and rushing you forgot too check it... these things happen...
generally a lamb that isn’t full blown f**ked will only need tubing twice... iv seen some pretty dead looking lambs bouncing around after half a hour in my truck footwell and a tube of milk and then another tube 2/3 hours later... any more than that any they’re probably never going too come right because there organs will of already started shutting down
 

Robin2020

Member
Livestock Farmer
Yes I shouldn't complain I guess. Still learning what is good or bad lambing stats. I got very lucky in general. The mule hogs were excellent.
 

Robin2020

Member
Livestock Farmer
I lost a few this time because I was flat out busy and every time I passed the pens I’d see the lamb up and sucking and thought they were doing mint then I’d come back past an hour later and they’d gone down hill fast... that’s when you realise the ewe had a bad bag and rushing you forgot too check it... these things happen...
generally a lamb that isn’t full blown fudgeed will only need tubing twice... iv seen some pretty dead looking lambs bouncing around after half a hour in my truck footwell and a tube of milk and then another tube 2/3 hours later... any more than that any they’re probably never going too come right because there organs will of already started shutting down
That's useful to know.....I was on maybe 6 feeds. Thanks
 

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Five nature-recovery projects spanning 100,000ha launched

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Written by Michelle Martin from Agriland

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Five nature-recovery projects spanning nearly 100,000ha across the West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, the Peak District, Norfolk and Somerset have been announced by the government and Natural England today (Thursday, May 26).

This is the equivalent in size to all 219 current National Reserves.

The aim of the projects is to deliver nature recovery at a landscape scale, helping to tackle biodiversity loss, climate change and improve public health and well-being.

All five projects will make a significant contribution towards the national delivery of the international commitment to protect at least 30% of land and...
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