How much should I be bottle feeding a lamb?

Updated February 21, 2017

When a mother sheep dies or rejects her young, or if a lamb is too weak to nurse, it becomes necessary to bottle feed. This task requires an extensive time commitment for at least the first month of the lamb's life. The amount of food depends on the weight of the lamb.

The First 24 Hours

A newborn lamb needs the colostrum from the mother. Colostrum is a substance secreted by the teat that contains important immunity boosting agents. Without it, the lamb's immune system can't fight off the bacteria and viruses present on the farm. The newborn lamb can become sick and possibly die. Milk the mother and freeze excess colostrum. The lamb needs 20cc's of colostrum every two hours for the first 24 hours. If the mother dies during childbirth, use frozen colostrum from a previous birth or cow colostrum. There is no synthetic or colostrum substitute. If no colostrum is available, then use milk replacer.

The Next 48 Hours

After the first 24 hours, the newborn lambs needs a mix of colostrum and milk replacer. This ensures it gets not only the immunity support it needs, but also the nutrition. Mix about 20cc's of the colostrum with milk replacer. The lamb needs about 15-20 per cent of its body weight in milk per day. Feed the lamb every two to three hours.

Full Milk Replacer

After 72 hours, the lamb no longer needs the colostrum but can subsist on milk replacer, maintaining the 15-20 per cent of its weight in replacer per day. Use a 354ml soda bottle fitted with a nipple to administer the food. Keep the cap to refrigerate unused milk. Weigh the lamb every couple of days and adjust the amount of milk replacer to keep up with the growing lamb.

The Full Time Regimen

Throughout the time bottle feeding, the lamb requires 15 to 20 per cent milk replacer, but the amount changes as the lamb grows. The feedings begin every two to three hours, but become more spaced out as the lamb ages. By the time the lamb is weaned, he'll only be fed every 12 hours. Instead of spreading out the 15 to 20 per cent over several feedings, use two feedings.

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About the Author

Brock Cooper attended Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill. He was a reporter for seven years with a daily in Illinois before branching out into marketing and media relations. He has experience in writing everything from press releases to features on a variety of subjects and forums. His work can be seen in NewsTribune newspaper, Chicago Parent magazine and several websites.