If you are like us you are bare and busy with lambing at the moment. One of the biggest challenges for any sheep farmer at the moment is what to do with spare lambs.
Your bottle lamb is a huge amount of work and will never rare as good as the lamb fed on mother’s milk. Fostering lambs is a tricky and sometimes dangerous business.
Getting your foster lamb to be taken by the ewe is most likely your first hurdle. There are several different methods depending on time.
If you have a single lamb born and happen to have your foster lamb to hand getting him covered in the ewe’s birth fluids as soon as possible is key. I generally take away the two lambs the natural born and the foster, wet the foster with the mothers fluid and show her the two of them. If your foster is strong he may well go for the tit straight away and if you have covered him in enough fluid you should have fooled the mother.
Sometimes you do need to be careful that your foster lamb does not overtake the natural lamb and drink all the mothers milk. I generally once bonding has occurred keep them in a tea chest beside the ewe controlling feeding for the first few days until al lambs have caught up.
Another trick for introducing the foster lamb at this early time is to have a bucket to hand place your foster lamb in the bucket and deliver the new lamb into the bucket that way all the fluids get poured onto the foster.
In the event of dealing with a dead lamb and introducing a foster lamb for your week old lamb you are in a different situation. It’s a lot more tricky to fool the ewe now.
Skinning the dead lamb does work but not all the time. His pelt will mask the smell of the foster ewe and generally after a few days it works. I can personally say that it has worked for me but it takes time and effort. You need to do a good job getting the lambs pelt to ensure you can really give your foster a good shot.
Supplementing feeding of your foster lamb may have to take place for a few days even when you have introduced him to the ewe.
Now it does need to be talked about because it does happen.
Your foster lamb and ewe will sometimes not take. She may puck and bully the new lamb and in extreme cases may kill the lamb through her pucking.
Foster lambs are part and parcel of lambing season. Its tough work but generally it works and you can pair off those foster lambs and spare lambs. No one wants a pet lamb so keep that in mind when your knee deep in the ewe pen and cursing that stubborn mother who won’t let the little one suck.