Solving Lamb Rejection Issues in Sheep

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Farmfresh
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Solving Lamb Rejection Issues in Sheep

Unread post by Farmfresh » Sat May 11, 2019 3:38 pm

As most of you know my black ewe, Thyme, had issues last year where she rejected one of the lambs. Last year was her yearling year and first lambing, so I chalked a lot of the issue up to being a raw novice. She would worry and kiss and love to pieces her first little lamb and then bash the second lamb like she wanted to kill her.

First I tried just tying her up and letting both lambs nurse, but that was not enough. I finally decided to remove the lamb she accepted and just leave her with Honey, the lamb she hated. In less than half the day, she was nursing and loving the rejected lamb.

Unfortunately, the tale doen't have the best ending, because the loved lamb ended up getting killed by my old service dog Sage before it could be re-united with mom. I had it in the bathtub for safe keeping. MY FAULT. When my hubby used the bathroom he didn't get the door latched when he left. Sage didn't appreciate a visitor in the bathtub. Sheep do not belong there. One bite and it was toast.

Once the rejected lamb was accepted however Thyme ended up being a very good mother. I put the experience down to her age and went on from there.

Now this year... and we have the same scene with different players.

I spent the night working on the situation, but once again it seems to be resolved and this time all three lambs are still healthy.

I thought I should do a topic thread on this subject... you never know when you will need the info again.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

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Farmfresh
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Re: Solving Lamb Rejection Issues in Sheep

Unread post by Farmfresh » Sat May 11, 2019 4:00 pm

Here are a few things to try if you are faced with lamb rejection.

First try to use a lambing jug, which is a small pen enclosure. By keeping new mothers alone with their babies for the first few days it gives them a chance to get well bonded. The pen is small so a wobbly new lamb can keep up with mother and get to the milk jug easily. Usually this is all that is needed to make the bond.

Next. Halter the ewe and tie her, then help those new babies get into the right position. A wall on the far side of the ewe and a back up preventer like a fence or the barn wall makes holding the ewe in position much easier. I usually sit in a chair close enough to the ewe once tied that my knee into her hip bone can take all the wobble out. I can then use both hands to maneuver the lamb. Often if a ewe is forced to nurse in this way she will soon accept the reject.

Step three. Put some smelly oil or ointment on the ewe's nose. I used Vick's on Thyme's nose this time. I put it on the hairy portion and not directly in or on her nose so that it won's interfere with her eating or wash off when she is drinking. If she can't smell the lamb, she will better accept the reject.

Step four. Set up a Safe Spot for the lambs. Someplace they can go where they can see the mama, but stay out of harms way if she gets aggressive with them. I set up a creep gate in the stall corner for Thyme's new lambs.

Step five. Feed the ewe while she nurses the lambs. Giving her food or gentle petting makes it more likely that she associates the nursing lambs to a nice experience.

Step six. Use a head gate to hold mama still for the nursing. The fact is that if a baby can nurse even a day or two it makes the poo smell like that mothers milk. Chances for acceptance are much greater. Premier1 sells a orphan head gate for around $160 or about the price of a meat lamb. It simply opens up the ewe puts neck in and is locked into place. She can eat and drink what you brought. Because she can't see the lamb,smell or get away from it. She will soon let it nurse.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

patriceinil
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Re: Solving Lamb Rejection Issues in Sheep

Unread post by patriceinil » Sun May 12, 2019 11:01 am

Hopefully you won’t have anymore problems with her and her babies now that she’s used to them.

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Farmfresh
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Re: Solving Lamb Rejection Issues in Sheep

Unread post by Farmfresh » Sun May 12, 2019 11:03 am

She was acting a butt again last night, so she spent the night tied again. This morning she is acting very mellow and letting them all nurse. I will keep her jugged up with them for several more days. She needs some extra groceries as well and that will give her a chance to replenish what these HUGE babies pulled off of her before she has to compete for it.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

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