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Rearing orphan lambs/kids
Rearing orphan lambs/kids can be made easy with the aid of a feeding bucket with several feeding stations.


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How to raise orphan lambs and kids...

Premier's preferred feeding program:
For newborns feed colostrum, or colostrum replacement, with a Pritchard Teat and our Feeding Bottle for first 18 hours. Then change to warm milk replacer.
After one day (or less) switch to latex (red or natural) nipples in bucket teat units (see photo above). As soon as the lambs learn to nurse readily, switch from warm milk to cold milk. Offer it ad lib.
Day 5, offer dry feed (a commercial lamb starter or soybean meal with cracked corn) in a feeder. Placing a light (a heat lamp with 175 watt bulb is sufficient) over the feeder encourages lambs to stay nearby and eat feed. To further encourage creep consumption place a stainless steel bolt in the feed to draw their attention. They will investigate the bolt and the meal will stick to their lips which they will begin to consume.
After 8-10 days switch from latex to rubber teats. Why? Because some lambs have sharp teeth that can damage latex teats. (The sharp teeth may be a reason the lambs/kids were originally orphaned.) A few years ago we noted that 50% of our orphan lambs had very sharp teeth—which explained why the ewes rejected them. A quick file using our tooth file before you make the lamb an orphan can "cure" this. Cull the lamb.
By the 5th week their milk consumption per day will surprise you. So will the cost of the milk! So begin diluting the milk with extra water.
Week 6 and after, wean by offering only water and dry feed.
Premier Bucket Teat Unit
What is the right height for a bucket teat? It should not be higher, above the bedding, than a normal ewe’s own teat. Place the bucket holder so the bottom of the bucket is about teat high. When a young lamb or kid stretches out their neck to nurse, the esophagus forms a channel to the 4th stomach. If it is not stretched, the milk falls into the first stomach (rumen) instead. This stomach was intended for processing grass or hay, thus it does not digest milk the same.

Watch our Video: How to assemble a Premier Bucket Teat Unit for orphan lambs or kids.
To keep milk in the bucket cold in summer
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. Warm milk offered ad lib to older orphans causes gorging. So only use warm milk for newborns. Switching to cold milk causes lambs to self regulate their intake (they become chilled). To keep milk in the bucket cold in summer, freeze water in plastic bottles (see photo at left) to use as “ice cubes.”

If the ages of the lambs are staggered: Different aged lambs will require multiple buckets and separate pens. Why? Because when a younger lamb feeds, the older lambs, whether they are hungry or not, will push away younger lambs and begin feeding.

However, we know of others that have success using warm milk in lieu of cold.
Mixing milk for orphan lambs

Mixing milk for orphan lambs with a sturdy whisk. For more information read Warm-Milk Feeding for Orphan Lambs.

Tubing a newborn lamb

Sometimes tubing a newborn lamb with a dose of colostrum is necessary. If doing so, make sure the lambs neck is stretched as in the photo. Also refer to Using a Stomach Tuber and Saving Hypothermic Lambs.

Bottle racks

Multiple bottle racks attached to our panels with lamb ‘n’ kid feeding bottles to feed kids/lambs. An optional method that works well.


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