How to Bottle a Lamb: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Bottle a Lamb: 13 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Bottle a Lamb: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

Sometimes you may need to bottle-feed a lamb. These animals can be orphaned if the mother dies in childbirth or if she rejects the calf for no apparent reason. It will be necessary to start feeding it as soon as possible for it to survive, and it is necessary to follow a certain protocol for that.


Part 1 of 3: Preparing the bottle

Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 1

Step 1. Find a veterinarian

If you need to bottle-feed a lamb, you've probably found it motherless or seen one of your ewes reject the calf. You need to take him to the vet before trying to care for him on your own. The professional will be able to tell you exactly what your puppy needs in terms of care and help you find the right milk and colostrum substitutes for your puppy's diet, ensuring he receives all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 2

Step 2. Buy a replacement for colostrum

Colostrum is the first type of milk that sheep produce after giving birth. It is vital to the health and well-being of the lamb.

  • Colostrum is important because it contains high levels of nutrients and protects against a variety of infectious agents. Lambs are not born with antibodies, so they need colostrum to develop these antibodies and fight possible infections.
  • Puppies should receive 10% of their body weight in colostrum after birth. This means that a 5 kg lamb should consume 500 g of colostrum during the first 24 hours of life. If the animal has been abandoned or rejected by the mother, provide a colostrum substitute for it as soon as possible. In fact, if you raise sheep, it's a good idea to have this replacement around at all times, in case of an emergency.
  • Colostrum substitute is sold at locations that provide feed for livestock and equipment for raising farm animals.
Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 3

Step 3. Buy a sheep milk substitute

The lamb will need a milk substitute for the first 13 weeks of life.

  • The substitute can also be purchased at places that provide feed for livestock. After opening it, leave it in an unopened bottle. Placing some bay leaves on the bottle can prevent insect infestations.
  • The milk replacer must be specific for lambs. Do not try to use a product made for calves as it will have different nutrients and vitamins and will not keep the animal healthy.
Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 4

Step 4. Make your own formula if necessary

If you cannot find a milk replacer or colostrum, you can make them at home. It is recommended that you try to find store sold products first as they are more likely to have the right nutrients. Only use homemade formulas as a last resort.

  • Colostrum substitute can be made by mixing 740 ml of cow's milk, a beaten egg, a teaspoon of cod liver oil and a teaspoon of glucose. It can also be made with 600 ml of cow's milk, a teaspoon of castor oil and a beaten egg.
  • The milk replacer can be made with a teaspoon of butter, a teaspoon of dark corn syrup, a can of evaporated milk, and oral and liquid lamb smoothies, which can be purchased at feed stores.
Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 5

Step 5. Prepare the bottle

The lamb should be fed with a 240 ml bottle with a rubber nipple.

  • In the beginning, you should fill the bottle with 10% of the baby's weight in colostrum and give it to him within the first 24 hours. During this time, feed the lamb every two hours if possible.
  • After the initial colostrum feed, the lamb will need 140 ml of milk replacer. Measure the correct amount in the bottle and heat it until it is warm to the touch but not scalding hot as you would a baby bottle.
  • Sterilize the bottle and nipple regularly using a suitable solution or steam bottle sterilizer. All milk residues are ideal cradles for bacterial colonies. Do not use bleach as it will damage the nozzles.

Part 2 of 3: Feeding the Lamb

Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 6

Step 1. Do a feeding routine

After the initial 24-hour period, you should set up and follow a puppy feeding schedule.

  • During the first 24 hours after receiving colostrum, lambs should be fed 140 ml every four hours. After that, feed the lamb 200 ml four times a week. He should still be fed about every four hours. Keep track of the times you feed the animal and be sure to follow the correct intervals.
  • After two weeks, you can start to gradually increase the amount of milk given to the lamb.
  • As already stated, heat the milk replacer first until it is warm to the touch without being scalding hot.
Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 7

Step 2. Hold the puppy's head up, standing on all fours, and give him the bottle

After measuring and preparing the milk, you can now feed the lamb.

  • These animals must feed on four. Do not hold them on your lap while bottle feeding, as this can cause a clot to form in their lungs.
  • Most lambs will suck on instinct. If it doesn't, press the nozzle of the bottle against the animal's mouth to encourage it to feed.
Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 8

Step 3. Add fresh water, hay and grass after the first week

After a week of bottle with colostrum and then milk, the lamb should receive solid foods in the diet.

  • Give the lamb fresh water, hay and grass and let it eat and drink as much as it likes.
  • If he's strong enough, put him out to graze with the rest of the herd so he can start socializing with the other animals.
Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 9

Step 4. Increase the amount of food every two weeks

You should increase the amount of milk the lamb gets as it grows.

  • After two weeks giving him 200 ml four times a day, increase it until you reach 500 ml four times a day.
  • After another two weeks, gradually increase the amount to 700 ml per day, four times a day.
  • When you get to five or six weeks, start decreasing the amount of milk. Reduce it to 500 ml a day, just twice a day.
Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 10

Step 5. The lamb should have weaned by the 13th week

By the time he is 13 weeks old, he should have stopped drinking milk and switched to a diet of hay, feed, grass and water. Keep track of time and stick to your schedule to gradually reduce the bottle, starting in the fifth or sixth week.

Part 3 of 3: Avoiding Problems

Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 11

Step 1. Watch the lamb after feeding it to see if it has received enough

See if he's not eating too much or too little. There are several ways to check that your pet has received a proper meal.

  • After eating, the sides of the lamb should be straight, from the quarters to the ribs. This is ideal and indicates that the animal has received the proper amount of food.
  • If you notice that his sides are full after a meal, cut down on the amount of milk next time, as you've probably overdone it.
Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 12

Step 2. Avoid hypothermia

Lambs often need a bottle because they lost their mother or were abandoned. If the animal cannot rely on the herd's body heat, its body temperature can get too low, resulting in hypothermia. There are some steps you can take to prevent this problem:

  • A lamb with the onset of hypothermia looks weak, thin, and will likely be bent over. A rectal thermometer can be used to confirm low body temperature. A normal lamb will have a body temperature of 38, 8 to 39, 4 °C. Any lower value can indicate problems.
  • Wrap the animal in a towel to warm it. You can also use a hair dryer or a cardigan made especially to stay on his body overnight. It is not advisable to use heat lamps as they can cause a fire in the pen.
  • Keep the corral protected from drafts, especially in winter.
Bottle Feed a Baby Lamb Step 13

Step 3. Protect the puppy from pneumonia

This disease is common in lambs, especially in those who need a bottle, as they do not always get the proper antibodies to fight the microorganisms, even when receiving the colostrum substitute.

  • Symptoms of pneumonia are breathing problems, increased heart rate and fever. Lambs with this disease may not want to breastfeed.
  • Humidity and drafts are the main causes of pneumonia. Keep the pen clean, dry and draught-free to prevent the lambs from getting this disease.
  • If the animal develops pneumonia, buy antibiotics from the veterinarian and give them as soon as possible.

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