How to provide your lamb proper nutrition from the start
Welcome your new baby lamb with open arms and the knowledge you need to meet all its nutritional needs. The feeding needs of lambs change quickly, so being prepared in advance for each phase will help your lamb off to a strong and healthy start.
The first 24 hours in a lamb’s life are crucial to its health moving forward. Hopefully, they will begin naturally nursing within hours of birth. If they don’t or if the ewe’s milk is unable to give them the immune-boosting power from their colostrum, it is imperative you have a good colostrum replacer or supplement on hand to feed your newborn lamb. Start bottle feeding a colostrum replacer like Lamb and Kid Colostrum Replacer within two hours of your lamb’s birth. This is when their body is best equipped to absorb the nutrition critical to their health and development. If you are supplementing the ewes’ colostrum, feed Multi-Species Colostrum Supplement.
The first few days
Once the first 24 hours have passed, you can switch to milk replacer if your lamb is still not nursing adequately. You will want to choose a milk replacer that is specifically formulated for lambs, such as the Sav-A-Lam® Milk Replacer. This has the optimal blend of energy i.e., carbohydrates and fat, protein, vitamins and minerals specifically targeted to benefit a lamb’s development. Milk or milk replacer will be the primary source of the lamb’s nutrition for the first month until weaning.
The first few weeks
In the next five to 14 days, allow your lamb to nurse or continue to feed them milk replacer four times per day. During this time, however, you will want to start introducing lamb starter or creep food concentrate. This is due to the fact that sheep are ruminants, meaning they have four-part stomachs built for digesting large quantities of forage. Introducing the feeding of grain early on will help jump-start the lamb’s rumen development.
Start to reduce feeding milk replacer to three times per day during the next 15-30 days of your newborn lamb’s life. You will be beginning to introduce more creep feed and forage into their diet. For optimal digestion, feed them fine-stemmed hay or pasture. Avoid leafy alfalfa hay that can cause them to bloat.
The next few weeks
Most lambs can be weaned from milk replacer at 30-45 days old when they are healthy, eating hay and grain daily, and have tripled their birth weight. It is most beneficial to wean your lamb abruptly, but to make the process a little less stressful, make sure they remain in familiar surroundings.
Always ensure your lamb has enough drinking water that is fresh and clean. This will encourage them to drink enough to stay hydrated and grow to their full potential.
Now that you know all about feeding your newborn lamb in the first weeks, learn more about proper lamb housing and special nutritional needs they may have.
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