Lambing and Kidding Aids
Tubing Lambs & Kids
Gains far exceed the cost
Few items return more profit per $$ of investment than this simple tool. Cold, tiny or weak lambs and kids that otherwise would die can be saved if you can get warm colostrum into them in time. It is faster and better to "tube" a newborn lamb or kid than to try to feed from a nipple or bottle. Nipples are fine for strong lambs/kids, but weak lambs/kids fed via a nipple may inhale milk into their lungs, which can trigger pneumonia.
Practice makes perfect
Though inserting a tube in a lamb/kid intimidates some novices, the process is not difficult. No force is required. If the lamb or kid shows discomfort, the tube may have entered the windpipe (trachea). If so, remove the tube and try again. We like to see the tip of the tube slightly expanding the skin on the neck on its way to the stomach. A comfortable lamb or kid may even chew on the tube. In larger lambs, all but 2 in. of the tube can be inserted.
Concerns and tips
- Do not ram the milk into the stomach with the plunger. Push it in slowly.
- Never use dirty tubes or syringes. Rinse after each use. Disinfect daily.
- Syringes and tubes wear out without warning so purchase a replacement.
- Do not tube a lamb or kid that's too chilled to raise its head. First warm it in a warming box (or similar). You can tube it after it's warm.
- Hypothermic lambs and kids should have a 25 to 50cc dose of 20% warm glucose injected into the peritoneal cavity (best to research this). Only when it can raise its head should it be tubed.
Feeding Orphan Lambs & Kids
Premier's preferred orphan feeding program
- To Start, use Pritchard teats with warm milk replaced 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.
- Weak 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 the milk into the 4th stomach. If it is not stretched, the milk falls into the first stomach instead. But the first stomach was intended for grass and 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 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".