How to Look After your Pet Lamb-ey

from Harriet, foster mother to four lambs…

Some lambs are left motherless, due to the ewe dying or, more usually, having an inadequate milk supply.  In these cases, the lamb can either live with its mother, but be bottle-fed, or taken away and hand-reared. If they are left with the mother, the lamb normally loses interest after a few days of not suckling from her.

When is lambing season?

We lamb from late-December (our first arrived on Christmas Eve, this year!), but we have very hardy Welsh Lleyn sheep. The ram runs with them all the year round, but the tupping naturally happens around July and August. Other breeds will lamb later, if the ram is withheld from the ewes, so that there is more reliable grass available by the time the lambs are born in March/April. One farmer up near Sherborne lambs in the Autumn and Spring, so he has a constant, reliable supply of finished lambs.

What do you feed them?

The first three feeds need to be colostrum (an antibody-rich first milk produced by mammals). We usually use cow colostrum, using excess colostrum from a freshly calved cow, which has been frozen. After that, we use cow’s milk fortified with powder and yoghurt (yakult for lambs!). Like with babies, they prefer the milk to be at body temperature, which takes less energy to warm and digest.

How often do we feed them?

Three or four times a day to start with and then twice a day from a month old.

When do they get weaned?

Slowly, the lambs will be given dry food (rolled barley meal, starter pellets, hay and grass) alongside their milk. They will gradually lose interest in the milk and naturally wean themselves off it. Most of them will have done this by three months.