I am very new to this farming thing, I moved from Auckland to the Naki 8 months ago and I bought a 7 acre block. I am loving it and wish i had done it sooner. I bought some sheep of a mate of mine in Palmerston North and I am now the proud daddy of lambs... how can I be sure the new lambs are getting milk from mum, they seem to be going to the right place and nodding on the udder, but I they dont seem to stay on for long.
I am a bit worried I will wake up in the morning and find dead lambs because they have not had enough to drink.
It is a very good idea to check that a newly lambed ewe is actually making milk and has unblocked teats. To do this, catch the ewe, turn her into the shearing position, moisten your finger and thumb, massage the milk from the top of the udder, then squeeze the milk out. The teat should be blocked with a wax plug until it has been removed by pressure or suckling. But teats can also be blocked by lumps which can be massaged around.
If the lamb is 3 or 4 hours old or more, and the milk has not been flowing, then milk the colostrum into a small soft drink bottle and feed this to the lamb using a lamb teat or a stomach tube. About 100ml is enough. If the milk is flowing then probably the lamb has suckled.
3 to 5 minutes suckling at a time is normal for lambs.
Welcome to the forum, chevronracer! I don't do sheep, but I imagine it's pretty similar to goat kids. When the kids are quite young, they often have many small feeds over the course of a day. Are they bleating a lot? Do they seem weak? If not, then I wouldn't worry too much. Do keep an eye on them over the first few days, just in case it's a matter of mis-mothering. You can feel the belly after you've seen the lamb feed, it should feel slightly rounded. Take the time to get to know how they feel at various times of the day, and perhaps, if the ewe will let you get near enough, see if you can get milk from the teats.
Hungry kids (goats in my case) are quite loud about it.