Rejected Lamb

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Longing, May 18, 2004.

  1. Longing

    Longing Guest

    I've just watched a lamb being born and its mother instantly up and walk away, without so much of a sniff. She hadn't returned after 30 minutes so I've given the lamb some artificial colostrum and some milk. They're now both in a pen together, and whilst signs are mixed, I'm not convinced that the mother is going to do the business. How long should I leave them penned together before I give up on the mother finding her instincts? Is she likely to hurt her lamb?

    Cheers,

    Simon
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    She may not come around on her own but there are a few things you can try. First has she passed the afterbirth? That kind of instant rejection is often corrected naturally if it passes in a timely manner. You can speed it up some with a shot of oxytocin and I'm convinced the hormone on it's own is one of important elements in starting good mothering. I will tether a mum that really really doesn't want to mother. Its risky as she may lay on the lamb but it works more often than not. I wouldn't hesitate to use the oxytocin and decide what your going to do within a couple of hours either bottle rasie it or tether/headgate mum. You'll have to milk out the mother if you bottle raise the lamb. Actually milking out some colostrum will release oxytocin and you can feed real colostrum or freeze it for another lamb.
     

  3. John Hill

    John Hill Grand Master

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    I believe this is something that requires quick action as soon as possible after she walks away.

    Rather than a tether that she may fight I suggest confining her between two gates, hurdles or whatever so that all she can do is stand. Make sure the lamb can reach her udder and if necessary show him where it is. Some people would put a blindfold on her too but I am unsure of that.

    One method, that I do not endorse, is to render her unconsious and leave her to recover with the lamb by her side.
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Yikes!! Where'd you even hear of such a thing John!!!?? I'd bet dollars for dimes this is a smallish lamb (that required little oxytocin to birth). I like the "crate" idea too, though I've never used it.
     
  5. Longing

    Longing Guest

    Good Morning. Thanks for your advice.

    Situation is still looking mixed - mother and daughter are still penned together and mother seems to be tolerating her lamb, but the lamb doesn't seem to know where the business end (so to speak) of her mother is, and doesn't seem to be getting any milk. We've been bottle feeding through the night, but still allowing her the chance to suckle. This worked earlier this month with a mother/lamb combination of teats too large/lamb too small, so hopefully we'll get there...

    As far as size is concerned, she's about average for this year's lambs.

    Cheers,

    Simon
     
  6. John Hill

    John Hill Grand Master

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    Like I said Ross, knocking her unconscious is not something I endorse!!! Some brands of tractor cold start fluid have their uses. :)

    It is too late now but I forget to mention.. Simon said she instantly got up and walked away so she never tried to clean the lamb in any way so there is another part of the initial bonding that did not happen. It would have been useful to have caught her and smeared the wet lamb over her muzzle, this might have stimulated the cleaning instinct and solved the problem right there. Sorry, I should have thought of that this morning.