On this particular day I spent the majority of my time caring for the lambs, starting with the morning field check. Some ewes will reject their lambs if they have not bonded so I lifted two abandoned lambs into the trailer to drive back to the farm. The lambs will die quickly if they have not ingested a substantial amount of colostrum and are vulnerable to the cold. On many occasions, there were over 20 pet lambs under the heat lamp!
This meant I had a lot of stomach tubing and bottle feeding- having an extremely thick bottle of colostrum did not help as once I had tubed a couple, there would be an influx of pet lambs brought in that needed colostrum.
We have them cow colostrum from a local dairy farm which is one of the alternatives. Frozen ewe colostrum, a foster ewe and bought formulated alternatives are other options. Although there is on average less colostral fat in bovine colostrum, there is the same amount of lactose. It is ideal that the cow’s colostrum is from approximately her fourth lactation as she will have been exposed to more pathogens thus have a higher number of antibodies in the colostrum for the lamb to gain passive immunity. These antibodies will prevent Joint ill, E-coli, Parainfluenza 3 virus and Pasteurella. However, bovine colostrum will not provide immunity against diseases that only affect sheep. There is an additional risk due to a cow’s potential anti-ovine factor which will destroy a lamb’s red blood cells, leading to anaemia. Nonetheless, it was a success.
However, not everything was a success, because not all ewes will accept a lamb that has been wet mothered. I noticed a sheep head butting her lamb, so I tied her up in the ring feeder pen so the lamb could suckle and hopefully bond.