Friday, February 7, 2014

Shepherdess Notes: Tube Feeding a Lamb

Lambing has started on the farm! The ewes usually do a great job taking care of her lamb/lambs. Normally, we go out and find a lamb, cleaned off, standing and nursing. No help from the shepherdess. At this point and time, we dip the lambs umbilical cord in iodine, we weigh the lambs, and check the ewes udder and strip her teats to make sure the wax plug is gone and the lamb is getting colostrum.

On occasion you run into problems. 
The ewe is rejecting the lamb.
The lamb is cold and is not actively trying to nurse.
The lamb is weak and does not have a strong sucking reflex. 

Our first lamb of 2014, had some difficulty, I found him outside the barn and he was cold. Thankfully, a towel and some gentle rubbing dried him off and he was able to stand but he was having a hard time nursing. We helped him along but after a couple hours he was still not actively nursing and his head was droopy (sign of a weak lamb) and his sucking reflex was weak. I decided to tube feed him. I milked the ewe (not easy) and was able to get some colostrum.
After being fed, he showed marked improvement within a short amount of time. I tube fed him two more times over the next 12 hours to make sure he was getting an adequate amount of colostrum. 

Yesterday evening, he was nursing on his own. Checked again today and he is still actively nursing. I will continue to keep a close eye on him over the next couple of days. 

Tube feeding is a life saving skill, that should be learned if you are raising lambs (and goats). 

The first time I heard about it, my first reaction was " I could never do that!". But, like with so many other things, I thought I could "never' do, I did learn. A lamb in trouble can be a great motivation.

Don't get me wrong, the first time I realized I was going to have to tube feed a lamb,  I was terrified! But as with anything else, it gets easier each time you do it. 

Here is a great tutorial on how to tube feed a lamb:

Tube Feeding a Lamb (Purdue University)

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  1. Oh I am happy all worked out I have done many things on the farm I said I could never do. God luck with the other cute little guys. Hug B

  2. I am glad the first little lamb of 2014 is doing good. I was worried when I read your first post and came back to check on him today - love the sweater! I so admire all you ladies and gentleman for all you do.

  3. I love his little sweater! I'm glad the little guy is doing ok.

  4. Glad to read the little guy is doing better! Glad that you had the knowledge to do that! Hope he keeps improving!

  5. You are awesome! You saved this little guy's life. Hehe! I love the wool sweater. The irony of putting a wool sweater on a lamb did not escape my razor sharp notice. ;-)

    1. I knew those sleeves off of those wool sweaters would come in handy :)

  6. Glad he's doing well :) LOVE that sweater, so CUTE!

  7. Good news! Glad it's going well now.

  8. Good for you, Sandra. I'm glad he's doing well. I have the equipment, but have never used it. I'm still at the, "I can't do that!" stage. There are many things I have learned, but tube feeding is not one of them.


  9. Congratulations! You are so brave!

  10. We lost some calves when I was a kid that we might have been able to save if we'd known how to do this. :( Thanks for the info!

    1. I would have lost more than one lamb, If I hadn't learned.

  11. Thank you for the great information! We don't start lambing around here until mid-April, its just too darn cold. We have a wonderful vet that will come out if we need him, last year he helped guide me through pulling a breech lamb.

    We had a calf born out of season and she wore a sweater for awhile too. Hoping for a break in these sub zero temps.

    Stopped by from the Oak Hill Homestead:HomeAcre Hop

  12. It Has been cold! Most of our lambs are due in April, hopefully it will be warmer by then.
    Good luck with your lambs.
    Thank you for stopping by.

  13. Thanks for sharing this! I know that as we get more goats around here that this is a skill I'll need to learn.


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