In many sheep flocks and goat herds there are orphaned lambs or kids and many prolific ewes/does have too many lambs/kids for the milking ability of the natural mother. Artificial rearing should only be considered when the option to foster is impossible.
In a system where prolific ewes have produced too many lambs for each lamb to receive enough milk or removed from its dam entirely. The preference is to foster; but this many be impossible. Typically, if a ewe has too many lambs a system must be developed to determine which lamb (s) is/are removed. The best rule of thumb is to remove the most different one, with size and gender (in order) being the determining factors.
* In a set of female triplets, if two are small and one is big: remove the largest one.
* In a set of quadruplets, two are male and two are female, one male I tiny: remove him. If the ewe is only capable of raising two: remove both males.
It is however advised for many individuals interested in generating replacement females to avoid removing the ewe lambs, as comparison must then be made within the flock on lambs that have had unequal growth opportunities. By the same reasoning, a potential ram should also not be artificially reared.
There ae a wide variety of techniques for feeding orphan lambs varying from a nipple on a bottle for only a few lambs, to large, commercially available feeders. These measure and mix the milk replacer on a regular basis. The choice of system will depend on the number of lambs to be reared, individual circumstances and preferences. Regardless of which system is chosen, sanitation is critical.
For small numbers of lambs, the most practical option is feeding a set amount of milk 2 or 3 times per day. Although labor intensive, this does allow for reduced cost of the milk feeding period and a fairly rapid transition to solid feed and easy early weaning. Either bottles fitted this nipple, or nipple pails to be used. What is important is that there is one nipple for each lamb, so that all have an equal opportunity to consume their allotted amount of milk.
The single most important aspect of any rearing system is the proper administration of colostrum. Ideally, a lamb should receive 1 ounce per pound of bodyweight of its own mother’s colostrum, withing 1 hour of birth. Additionally, 3 ounces per pound spread over three more feedings within the first 24 hrs. of life should be provided. This is to promote passive protection of the lamb until its own immune system is functioning.
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