You may need to bottle feed a lamb sometimes if you have orphaned lambs, if it’s mother dies in birth or if it’s mother rejects the baby for any reason.
For ensuring the lamb survives, you must have to begin bottle feeding it as soon as possible. As you know, a lamb’s primary source of nutrition is milk.
And a hand-raised or bottle-feed lamb must be fed milk from a bottle. By the way, there are some some rules that you need to follow to bottle feed a lamb. Here we are describing more about the steps of bottle feeding a lamb.
How to Bottle Feed a Lamb
It’s a good decision to consult with a vet before starting to bottle feed a lamb. An experienced vet can tell you exactly what the lamb needs and he/she will also tell you about it’s caring procedures.
You will probably need to obtain colostrum replacer to bottle feed a lamb. Colostrum is actually the first type of milk a ewe produces after giving birth and it’s vital to the health and well-being of a lamb.
Colostrum is also very important because it contains high levels of nutrients and it also protects against a variety of infectious agents.
Lambs need colostrum because they do not carry antibodies at birth. And colostrum help them to develop antibodies and combat potential infections.
A lamb generally require around 10 percent of colostrum after birth (during the first 24 hours of life).
You need to purchase colostrum replacer as soon as possible if the lamb has been rejected by it’s mother or abandoned.
By the way, it’s a good idea to have colostrum replacer on hand at all times if you raise lambs.
But in case you need to bottle feed a lamb over 10-13 weeks of age, you will need milk replacer.
You can easily purchase both colostrum and milk replacer any store that sell livestock feed.
When buying milk replacer, you have to ensure that it is specifically prepared for lambs.
Whether you are going to bottle feed a lamb colostrum replacer or milk replacer, you will need to prepare the bottle first.
You can easily fed a lamb with an 8 ounce baby bottle with a rubber nipple.
In case of feeding colostrum replacer, fill the bottle with 10 percent of the lamb’s weight in colostrum and feed this to the lamb within it’s first 24 hours.
And during it’s first 24 hours, it will be better if you can feed the lamb every two hours.
But you can use your own formula in case of bottle feeding the lamb with milk replacer.
Don’t forget to sterilize the bottles and nipples on a regular basis. However, read more information below about ‘how to bottle feed a lamb’.
Follow a Feeding Schedule
First of all, you have to form a feeding schedule depending on the age and size of your lamb. And you should always follow the schedule for feeding your lamb.
The lamb should receive colostrum for the first 24 hours of it’s life. And it will be better if you can feed the lamb every two hours during this first stage of life.
After the first stage the lamb should be fed around 140 ml every four hours, then around 200 ml every 6 hours (this can vary depending on the size of lamb and breed).
You can gradually begin increasing the amount of milk you feed your lamb, once 2 weeks passed (heat the milk replacer first).
Feeding the Lamb
You can feed your lamb once you have the milk measured and prepared. To bottle feed a lamb, hold it’s head up (allowing it to stand) and let it feed.
The lambs should be feed standing up. While feeding, do not cuddle or hold the lamb, because this could result in a clot in it’s lung.
Generally the lamb will suckle instinctively. But in case if the lamb is not suckling, pressing the bottle’s nipple against it’s lips should encourage it to feed.
Recommended: bottle feeding dwarf goats.
Offer Water & Food
You should offer the lamb fresh water, grass and hay after the first week along with bottle feeding.
You should let the lamb eat and drink as it desires. And if the lamb is strong enough, then you can let it out to graze with the rest of the flock.
Doing this will help the lamb to begin socializing with other sheep in the flock.
Increase the Amount of Milk
You should increase the amount of milk every two weeks.
For example, after second week you can feed the lamb 500 ml four times a day, and after fourth week increase the amount to 700 ml a day for three times.
But you should begin decreasing the amount of milk after it’s 5-6 weeks of age.
Weaning the Lamb
You should wean the lamb by it’s 13 weeks of age. And then it should transitioned into a diet of grass, hay, other feeds and water.
It will be good if you can feed the weaned lambs with such food that contain at least 16-18 percent crude protein. Do not feed your lamb alfalfa hay just after weaning.
Because alfalfa hay increases the chance of bloat which is a common condition in livestock that causes excess gas and discomfort.
Recommended: when to wean bottle feed goat kids.
Interesting Facts About Bottle-Feeding a Lamb
Bottle-feeding a lamb requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Before you take on this responsibility, there are some important things you should know. Now we are going to share some interesting facts about bottle-feeding a lamb.
- Lambs are born with a strong instinct to suckle. They will begin to nurse within minutes of being born.
- Sometimes, ewes may reject their lambs for various reasons such as illness, stress, or lack of milk production. This is when bottle-feeding becomes crucial.
- Bottle-feeding a lamb requires a commitment of time and effort. The lamb will need to be fed every four to six hours, including during the night.
- It’s important to use a special lamb milk replacer formula that’s designed specifically for lambs. Cow’s milk or other substitutes aren’t suitable for lambs and can cause digestive issues.
- When bottle-feeding, it’s important to mimic the natural feeding position by holding the lamb in a cradle position, with its head elevated slightly.
- Lambs have small stomachs, so it’s important not to overfeed them. Overfeeding can lead to bloating, diarrhea, and other health problems.
- A newborn lamb should be fed about 10% of its body weight, which equates to around 2 to 4 ounces per feeding.
- As the lamb grows, the amount of milk it needs will increase. By the time the lamb is two weeks old, it will likely be drinking around 20% of its body weight per day.
- In addition to feeding, lambs also need to be taught how to drink from a bottle. It’s important to make sure they’re latching onto the nipple correctly to avoid choking or aspirating milk.
- Bottle-fed lambs will need to be burped after each feeding, just like human babies. This is to prevent colic and bloating.
- Bottle-fed lambs should also be provided with plenty of water, especially as they start to eat solid foods. Water can be given in a shallow dish or bottle.
- In addition to milk, lambs also need access to hay and grass from an early age. This helps them develop their rumen, which is necessary for digesting plant material.
- Lambs that are bottle-fed may become more attached to humans than those raised by their mothers. They can be quite affectionate and will often follow their human caretakers around.
- Bottle-fed lambs can be more susceptible to health problems, such as scours (diarrhea) and pneumonia, due to the lack of antibodies from their mother’s milk.
- It’s important to keep a close eye on your lamb’s health and seek veterinary care if you notice any signs of illness.
- Lambs can be messy eaters, so it’s important to clean up spills and keep their feeding area clean to prevent the growth of bacteria.
- Bottle-fed lambs should be gradually weaned off milk when they’re around 6 to 8 weeks old. This process should be done gradually over several weeks.
- As the lamb starts to eat more solid food, it’s important to introduce them to a balanced diet that includes hay, grains, and minerals.
- Lambs that are intended for meat production are usually weaned earlier than those kept for breeding purposes. This is because early weaning can lead to faster growth and a higher quality meat.
- Bottle-fed lambs can become very attached to their human caretakers and may experience separation anxiety if they’re taken away from them too soon.
- It’s important to provide bottle-fed lambs with plenty of socialization and interaction with other lambs, even if they’re being raised separately.
- Bottle-fed lambs can make wonderful pets, but it’s important to remember that they’re livestock animals and require a different level of care than traditional pets.
- Bottle-feeding a lamb is an incredibly rewarding experience that can bring you closer to these adorable animals. With the right preparation and care, you can raise a happy and healthy lamb that will bring joy to your life for years to come.
Best Tips for Bottle-Feeding a Lamb
Bottle-feeding a lamb requires a lot of hard work and dedication. To ensure that your lamb grows up healthy and happy, it’s important to follow some basic guidelines. Here are some best tips for bottle-feeding a lamb.
1. Start with a Healthy Lamb
When selecting a lamb to bottle-feed, choose one that is healthy, alert, and active. Avoid lambs that appear weak or sickly, as they’re likely to require more intensive care.
2. Use a Special Milk Replacer Formula
Lambs require a special milk replacer formula that’s designed specifically for their needs. Cow’s milk or other substitutes are not suitable for lambs and can cause digestive issues.
3. Feed your Lamb Every Four to Six Hours
Newborn lambs should be fed every four to six hours, including during the night. As the lamb grows, its feeding schedule will change.
4. Feed Your Lamb in a Comfortable Location
Find a quiet, clean area where you can feed your lamb comfortably. This location should be away from noise and distractions, such as other livestock.
5. Hold Your Lamb in a Correct Position
When bottle-feeding, it’s important to mimic the natural feeding position by holding the lamb in a cradle position, with its head elevated slightly.
6. Use the Right Nipple Size
Select a nipple size that’s appropriate for your lamb’s age and size. The nipple should be firm and fit snugly onto the bottle.
7. Gradually Increase the Amount of Milk
As the lamb grows, gradually increase the amount of milk it receives per feeding. A newborn lamb should be fed about 10% of its body weight, which equates to around 2 to 4 ounces per feeding.
8. Don’t Overfeed Your Lamb
It’s important not to overfeed your lamb, as this can lead to health issues such as bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive problems.
9. Teach Your Lamb How to Drink From a Bottle
Lambs need to be taught how to drink from a bottle. Make sure they’re latching onto the nipple correctly to avoid choking or aspirating milk.
10. Burp Your Lamb After Each Feeding
Just like human babies, bottle-fed lambs need to be burped after each feeding to prevent colic and bloating.
11. Provide Plenty of Water
Bottle-fed lambs should be provided with plenty of water, especially as they start to eat solid foods. Water can be given in a shallow dish or bottle.
12. Introduce Solid Foods Gradually
As the lamb grows, gradually introduce solid foods such as hay and grass. This helps them develop their rumen, which is necessary for digesting plant material.
13. Keep Your Lamb Warm
Lambs require a warm environment to thrive. Make sure you provide them with enough heat, especially during colder months.
14. Monitor Your Lamb’s Health
Keep a close eye on your lamb’s health and seek veterinary care if you notice any signs of illness.
15. Clean Feeding Equipment Regularly
Bottle-fed lambs can be messy eaters, so it’s important to clean up spills and keep their feeding area clean to prevent the growth of bacteria.
16. Wean Your Lamb Gradually
Bottle-fed lambs should be gradually weaned off milk when they’re around 6 to 8 weeks old. This process should be done gradually over several weeks.
17. Introduce Balanced Diet
As the lamb starts to eat more solid food, it’s important to introduce them to a balanced diet that includes hay, grains, and minerals.
18. Early Weaning Can be Useful
Lambs that are intended for meat production are usually weaned earlier than those kept for breeding purposes. This is because early weaning can lead to faster growth and a higher quality meat.
19. Provide Socialization and Interaction
Bottle-fed lambs can become very attached to their human caretakers and may experience separation anxiety if they’re taken away from them too soon. It’s important to provide them with plenty of socialization and interaction with other lambs, even if they’re being raised separately.
20. Ensure Proper Hygiene Practices
Good hygiene practices are essential when bottle-feeding lambs. Wash your hands and equipment well before feeding your lamb.
21. Use the Right Equipment
Make sure you have all the necessary equipment before you start bottle-feeding your lamb. This includes a bottle, nipple, milk replacer formula, and a warm place to keep your lamb.
22. Keep Your Lamb Active and Engaged
Lambs need to be active and engaged to stay healthy. They should have access to adequate space and toys to play with.
23. Consult with Veterinarian if Required
If you’re unsure about any aspect of bottle-feeding your lamb, or if you notice any signs of illness or distress, consult with a veterinarian for guidance.