And it's a bad start for us :,(

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6 years 9 months ago #534466 by Follyfootfarm
We are in the Manawatu and had our first ever lambs born late yesterday afternoon, in the rain. Twin ewes to an experienced mum that we bought off a friend last year. All looked good. I couldn't see them feeding but thought they would get to it. This morning watching them they still didn't seem to know what to do, were nudging mums front and trying to suckle her bottom. Mum wasn't trying to push them away or anything, but they looked happy and active. However by lunchtime and husband checking on them regularly (from a distance) they still didn't look to know where the milk comes from and then shortly after husband found them curled up and weak in the shelter. Tried to get them to feed off mum by bringing her into the yards and putting teat in their mouth but too weak and cold to suck. Mum had plenty of milk and was happy to stand there so not her fault. Bought them inside and fed them a couple of feeds of powdered colostrum by stomach tube, still weak and shivering, third feed of colostrum to twin one and she suddenly leapt up and died. We must have drowned her :( Second twin we didn't try and tube feed again. Have her in by the fire and i have been slowly getting small amounts of powdered colostrum into her in a bottle with a teat. She still isn't sucking, the milk is dribbling into her, she is swallowing a bit. She still seems to be shivering and her extremities and mouth feel cold despite being right in front of a blazing fire. :( A real downer for us as new lifestylers, we have five other ewes to go and so are now dreading what we were excitedly looking forward to!

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6 years 9 months ago #534468 by 4trees
HI, sorry things are not off to a good start for you. Having raised lambs over 20 something years, don't try to feed them to much until they get warmed up, put a hot water bottle that you must keep warm but not hot underneath, if you have a fire place, bring them inside to get them warm. Once they are slightly warmish in the mouth you will usually get a gentle sucking motion when they are ready to take something. I usually feed with a bottle and teat, but the teat has a smallish hole so they don't drown and I give them a small dribble of Glucose and water for a start to get them going. If they start to suck that then I give them a little milk with some glucose in it.
Warmth is usually one of the biggest things with lambs, even if you wrap them in an old woollen jersey or similar and keep them warm to get them going is a very important thing. Good luck, don't beat yourself up to much. If your lamb makes it through the night, milk a bit a milk off mum in the morning to start and get him going, then you should possibly be able to feed him off mum later in the morning. Cheers.

Cheers
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6 years 9 months ago #534469 by Kalmara
if the lambs are cold, you need to warm them before giving liquid. Various ways of warming up lambs - Have a look in the Lifestyle File for some good ideas.
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6 years 9 months ago #534474 by muri
I had triplets born in a storm a few weeks ago. The youngest couldnt stand so couldnt get up to feed, a combo of wet muddy grass and being the smallest and weekest.
If you feel their mouth and ears that gives you an idea of temperature, particularly the mouth for newborns.
I just put her in my sweater, put a wool over on her and held her close to my body to get her body temperature up. I understand you dont want to heat them up too quickly.
I did get warmish milk into her with some honey for extra energy
I picked her out of the paddock at 7 am and by 4pm when she finally went in front of the fire, she was still shivering slightly despite having been on someones lap most of the day and still with her jacket on.
It is important to ensure they get that first drink from their mothers and to observe whats happening, especially if you have maiden ewes as well
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6 years 9 months ago - 6 years 9 months ago #534475 by Follyfootfarm
Thank you. Yes i think that was our problem, trying to feed them before they were warmed up. And also not acting quickly enough when we could see they didn't seem to be feeding. Will remember that for future. I had thought that lambs would instinctively know where to find the milk but i guess maybe not always? For any others we find like that we will get mum straight in the yards and try and put the lamb/s on.
On the plus side the remaining lamb warmed up considerably and had a bit of milk from a bottle and teat a few times overnight. This morning she was sitting up and walked around the lounge for a bit. Still a bit reluctant to feed but we'll keep on with it and as suggested get some milk from mum and try her on mum as well later. At least a nice sunny day today and i bought her a little wool overcoat for when she does go back out.
Last edit: 6 years 9 months ago by Follyfootfarm.

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6 years 9 months ago #534478 by kate
Good to hear that things are getting better...

I never assume a kid and doe will work it out, especially with first time mums. An experienced mum, as you have, should have been able to make sure the lambs were fed but it can take a while for the lambs (or in my case kids) to work it out, even if mum is cooperating. The problem is that newborns need the milk to give them energy and when they haven't fed and they get cold, they don't have the strength to keep searching for the teat. At which point they just get colder and colder and less able to feed. :(

It's all a learning curve..

Web Goddess
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6 years 9 months ago #534479 by LongRidge
I have been told over and over again to ensure that a lamb has a feed within 20 minutes of lambing. A few years ago I made the learners mistakes of just looking at a set of twins to an experienced mother, without checking that anything had been suckled out. The ewe had no milk :-( :-(. The lambs lasted 28 hours. If at all possible, check that the milk is flowing from every ewe :-(. If the seal of the teat has not been unplugged by the suckling then you know that the lambs have not fed.
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6 years 9 months ago #534482 by Kilmoon
"If the seal of the teat has not been unplugged by the suckling then you know that the lambs have not fed."

Longridge....yes....but also no. We have a nearly 10 yr old ewe who unplugs her teats herself. After lambing she'll sit herself down, contort round and suck her own nipples to unplug them - she does it for both sides. She'll then get up and nudge lambs to teats. So you can't say with 100% certainty that an unplugged teat = the lambs have drunk.

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6 years 9 months ago #534488 by LongRidge
Very true. The plug can be moved by something other than the animals own offspring eg another baby stealing, or even an adult that knows about stealing. But if the plug has not been removed then there is cause for concern, or if the plug has been removed and it is impossible to get milk out.

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6 years 9 months ago #534493 by Stikkibeek
The longer you keep her away from mum, the more likely it will be that she will reject the lamb. Take her out to feed off mum if you can. Sit mum in the shearing position and milk her out and feed that to the lamb, or latch the lamb onto a teat. (Two person job) Either that or console yourself that you have a lamb to raise, but you can socialize it with the other sheep by running it out with them.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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6 years 9 months ago #534502 by Follyfootfarm
From reading up a bit more it seems our initial problem of the lambs not feeding may be caused by the ewes very large low hanging udder. Looking at the lamb next to her mother she would have to be lying down to get the teat!

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6 years 9 months ago #534504 by LongRidge
Large teats are very difficult for any baby to deal with. As well as sheep, I've had cows and goats that hadd mammaries that made suckling difficult. The only advantage is big teats are easier to hand-milk :-(.
You are correct, another thing to watch out for.

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6 years 9 months ago #534506 by Follyfootfarm
2nd of the twin ewes died this morning. Developed scours last night and went downhill quickly overnight and was dead by morning. :(

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6 years 9 months ago #534509 by Geba
Oh - sad. Little lambs scouring are always in danger. At least you tried...I hope your next ones do well :)
There's heaps of good advice on here about watching / rescuing new or sick lambs, but I'll add a bit.

Trimming wool away from udders a month or so before lambing helps to make sure lambs don't suck on wool instead of teats.

Lambs born in cold & rain are always challenged and they get cold fast. I put any of ours who look specially cold or small in polar fleece jackets (just a scrap of material with holes cut out for legs) which looks daft, but it keeps them warm. I rub the outside of the jacket all over the lamb before I put it on, so that the jacket smells like lamb and mum doesn't take fright and push the lamb away. I take the jackets off after a few day/weeks, depending on the weather, Jackets/covers can be made from old jumpers, blanket scraps, bread bags, also Wrightsons & RD1 sell woollen lamb covers. Just make sure they are well 'smelled' before you walk away & leave mum & lambs to it.

Also, Mum is always the best nurse so I don't take lambs away unless there is no option left.
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6 years 9 months ago #534510 by Follyfootfarm
Thanks Geba. We have Wiltshires so don't need to worry about wool trimming luckily. Have got some bread bags saved up but didn't get to use them this time, but won't hesitate to put them on if cold/wet. I think being new to all this as well we were worried about disturbing the ewe/lambs after birth so left them a bit long before stepping in but next time if we need to i won't hesitate to get out there early on and at least put a bag or little coat on to give them a bit more of a chance.

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