Does Anyone has tips on how to get an orhan lamb to eat grass and hay?
She is almost 4 weeks old. We lower the amount of milk she gets, 3x a day 350ml. She is really hungry and screams a lot but some how she is not eating grass.
She is eating dirt and nibbles on grass and hay. It seems like she is not losing weight and she is growing but we are not sure.
4 weeks if quite early to be lowering milk intake. We have sheep pellets ad lib for them as well as the milk, as the get bigger they will eat more grass, ours started to go for our vegetable garden etc first and as young stock they will pick through the nice grass and get grumpy at the rest.
One trick we use with our calves is to sprinkle a little milk powder over the hay so it smells a bit more yummy for them, it works for some but not for others.
Ben, 4 weeks is far too early to expect a lamb to eat grass and get sufficient nutriment from it. You have at least another two months of bottle feeding ahead of you. At four weeks she will just be starting to experiment with the green stuff growing around her and nibbling will be exactly what she is doing. So slowly up the milk to what you had been giving her for at least another month, and preferably a bit longer.
As a keeper of sheep for many a long year, I try to stay away from the nut/grain aspect of feeding as they can become a right pain in the arse when they get older. I know many like to do this as it makes them easier to move but I can get 70 odd sheep to follow me (rather than being driven) without a nut in sight. When she gets older, if there is sufficient grass around, she won't bother with hay but not a bad thing to get them used to eating it if they will because there is always that bad winter when feed is short and hay will carry them through.
Milk is digested in the abomasum and in a young lamb this is large. Grass is digested in the rumen, and this is very small in a young lamb. In my opinion, from 4 weeks to 8 weeks the amount of milk fed should be increased slightly, to about 400 ml three times per day, then from 8 weeks back to 350ml for a couple of weeks, then stop one of the feeds for a couple of weeks, then wean after 12 weeks or 20 kg, whichever comes last.
At the moment, grass from well fertilised paddocks is not very nutritious because the new spring grass has not started growing yet. Lawn grass is never very nutritious because it does not get enough of the right chemicals to make it more nutritious.
We forcefeed lamb pellets to get them started on pellets. Do not feed pellets or meal within about 20 minutes both sides of feeding the milk.
The nibbling on twigs, leaves, fence posts etc is the way a lamb begins its conversion from milk to grass. She's picking up flora [bacteria, etc] that can digest cellulose to live in her rumen. The first time I saw it, I got worried, too!
LR, don't go muddying the waters and confusing the issue for Ben - if you want to go out every hour and feed your lamb by all means do so. Most of us are not ewes and don't have the time to stand around being one! If you observe your lambs you will notice they will only rush at the ewe when they are disturbed or when they are very young as in days old. By the time they are a month old they will often not bother with a feed for several or more hours because they are asleep in the sun or having too much fun with their woolly counterparts.
Ben, as Mudlerk says, follow the instructions on the sack. It is only a guideline as lambs come in different sizes with different requirements, but it's a good guideline. Experience will teach you how to muck around with the amounts to suit the lamb your feeding but at the moment stick with what you know.
Thanks for all tips.
Our lamb is doing great at this time, we give her a bit more milk 3x a day now (400ml) but for the rest we stick to the instructions on the bag.
She is very playful with the other lambs and she is even accepted by the flock (she is an orphan lamb)
She starts eating grass and hay, but has some trouble with the lamb pallets but she is learning from the others now.
Ben, FYI if you are the slightest bit interested .....
From about 6 weeks to weaning, lambs are able to suck hard and drink quickly. If you allow them to do this, by not changing to a slow teat, or having breaks while drinking, or giving a lot of milk, the lamb is at huge risk of a digestive upset. Sucking hard closes the valve between the abomasum where the milk is digested, and the rumen where the pasture is digested. If any significant amount of milk gets into rumen, the Clostridium perfringens bugs that have been picked up from the grass the lamb has eaten, can have a party on the sugar in the milk, and cause Pulpy Kidney which kills very, very quickly. The risk of this can be reduced by the ewe receiving an anti-clostridial vaccination a couple of weeks before lambing AND the lamb getting plenty of colostrum from this ewe within a couple of hours after birth. In a flock of ewes with lambs, this lasts about 6 weeks in the lamb. Then the lamb needs to be vaccinated to reduce the risk of PK. Because your lamb is a pet, it might not have had enough colostrum from a freshly vaccinated ewe in early life. If it had powdered colostrum, there is no guarantee that the antibodies in the milk it was made from managed to survive the powder making process . If you can, ask a sheep farmer if he can give your lamb one dose of anti-clostridial vaccine (LambVax or 5-in-1 or 10-in-1) as soon as possible.
Another thing that can happen from sucking a lot quickly is that the gut can get twisted, which also can kill very quickly. There is not much that can be done after this happens., but there are some remedies posted on Google which might work.
With both problems, the lamb feeds well, you go away confident that all is well, then come back 6 hours later to find that the lamb died about 5 hours ago . It is very, very depressing . Especially when you think "If only I had changed that teat to a slow one, and not permitted the lamb to drink so quickly, and fed less more often, and ensured that I weighed both the powder and the milk on the same scales rather than use these silly highly inaccurate measuring cups, and not made the drink so warm.
Thanks for the info.
We recently had to change the teat, she sucked that hard on it that there was a big hole in the teat. now she drinks much slower.
she only gets 500 ml 2x a day as she eats lots of grass and hay, and she looks to be growing very fast.
we will keep an eye on it.
Ben, sounds to me as though she is performing just like a typical hand reared lamb My smilies don't come up on my posts, and therefore probably not yours either, but that is a Happy Face. Thanks to Stikki, we now have a Happy Face.
Ronney wrote: lamb:) My smilies don't come up on my posts, and therefore probably not yours either, but that is a Happy Face.