Teats and Nipples for Feeding Lambs, Kids and Calves
Premier's preferred "orphan feeding program"
- To start, use Pritchard teats with warm milk replacer or colostrum.
- After one day (or less), switch to latex (red or natural) nipples in bucket teat units. As soon as lambs learn to nurse readily, switch to cold milk. Offer it ad lib.
- Day 5, offer grain (a commercial lamb starter or soybean meal with cracked corn) in a feeder. Place a light (a 125-watt heat lamp in winter) over the grain to encourage their attention and intake.
- After 2 weeks, switch from latex to rubber teats. Some older lambs have sharp teeth (one reason they're orphans) that can damage latex teats.
- By the 5th week, their consumption per day will surprise you. So will the milk cost! We begin diluting the milk with water.
- Week 6 and after, offer only water and dry feed. Tough love works.
What is the right height for a bucket teat?
It should not be higher above the bedding than a mother's own teat (which is usually low). Why? When a young lamb or kid stretches out its neck to nurse, the esophagus forms a groove to carry milk into the 4th stomach. If it is not stretched, the milk falls into the first stomach instead of the 4th. But the first stomach was intended for grass or hay, and it doesn't digest milk well. So the lamb/kid does not thrive and the first stomach enlarges to form a "potbelly."
Milk temperature—warm vs. cold?
Mother's milk is warm but it's produced constantly in only small amounts. On the other hand, orphan buckets "produce" milk sporadically in large amounts. So use warm milk for newborns only. Warm milk offered ad lib to older orphans causes gorging. Therefore, offer cold milk so lambs will automatically regulate their intake. To keep it cold, freeze water in plastic bottles to use as "ice cubes".