Grit Blogs > The Accidental Farmer

Bottle Lambs

April FreemanYesterday, a ewe we’ve been watching for quite some time lambed. We’ve been anticipating her lambing because she has something wrong with her udder and her babies will be required to be fed on a bottle.

The kids are excited. Of course, I understand. Lambs are totally cute and cuddly. Feeding them is like having a quick growing infant around. The kids like this stuff.

I’m less excited. This is a lot of work.

You see, baby lambs, especially bottle lambs, are quite fragile. For the first two or three weeks, they require close monitoring. In the first week, they must be fed every four hours, even at night. I stopped having my own children because of stuff like this! And now I’m doing it for a couple of lambs!

First thing yesterday afternoon after they were born, we had to make a trip to Tractor Supply Company. There I bought a small bag of colostrum powder. This stuff is all a baby lamb needs for its first 24 hours of life. Colostrum powder is not as good as the stuff that comes straight from a ewe’s udder, but it’s better than nothing. It does have extra minerals and antibodies to help get the lamb off to a good start.

I also bought a large bag of lamb milk replacer. In the past, I raised bottle lambs on fresh, raw milk from my dairy cow and they did thrive on it. However, Millie won’t calve until early September and so she is in her dry period now. I have to pony up the extra money for milk replacer for these lambs.

The milk replacer and the lamb colostrum cost about $60. If all goes well and we have a couple of lambs to sell in six or eight months, we can probably make $200, depending on the prices for sheep at that point.

It’s going to be a time-consuming, labor-intensive process. I hope it all turns out well. Our last bottle lambs died, but that was in January. They froze to death. Now it’s July. Don’t think freezing to death is likely. Thankfully, since it is warm, I won’t have to have bottle lambs running through my house.

Back in January, we had to keep them indoors to try to keep them warm enough. I learned to diaper them in order to protect my carpet and furniture. I’m so glad that’s not going to be an issue in the summer.

Unless it’s in the middle of the night, the lambs will continue to stay with their mother. She really wants to look after them and she’ll provide an amazing service for us: “pooping” the lambs. The mother sheep licks the lamb’s bottom and stimulates them to poop. If there’s not a ewe available to do this, someone has to rub their bottoms after they eat to keep them from getting constipated. This is gross. I’d rather allow a sheep to do what Mother Nature equipped her to do.

Bottle Lambs