We are new homesteaders, finding our way on an old, hobby farm we purchased in Idaho. I have a new young man from our small sheep flock. We have 10 black belly sheep that we bred for the first time. (Them and us) He was rejected by his 1.5yo mother at birth - she kept her other boy. We did quite a few physical efforts to make sure he was able to nurse his first day from his mom to make sure he was able to get some colostrum. The sweet little guy is 2 weeks old Tuesday. He is in the house, living like he owns the place. Drinking his milk well, etc. The problem is he constantly grinds his teeth. I was researching it tonight and realize he must be in some sort of pain, but he looks great. He is very active, plays with the dogs, hops around, sleeps like a trooper, drinks like he can't get enough - until he does, etc. I just thought he was teething as he tries to nibble everything. I have hay and the soften horse alfalfa pellets available but he is still a bit young for those. I am a TOTAL sheep rookie, I am not sure what to do for him. How much I should worry or if I am just pampering him too much(I've been told I pamper all the sheep too much). If anyone could give me some pointers, I would be very grateful. Thank you in advance.
Is he doing it standing up or laying down? My wife thinks this could be ruminating (chewing the cud). If he's laying down when it happens, this could be the case. If you sat with the other babies for an hour and observe the same thing this is likely the case.
If he's standing up when he does it, a call to the vet wouldn't hurt. As you know, taking him in is as easy as bringing a dog in.
The young sheep has access to grass, hay and alfalfa horse pellets that are a bit damp to make them easier to chew. He does it mostly laying down, a few times standing up but mostly when he is just sitting there looking bored. (Can be hard to entertain him all the time .) I will push the food harder to see if I can get him to eat. I keep trying to get the flock to take him back or at least hang with him for a bit and even though they are actively not trying to kill him, they don't want him there either. It is a step up though from killing him, unfortunately.
I wonder if you are giving him too much milk at one time. An ewe will tend to walk away after a lamb takes some milk, plus the babies usually have to compete with each other to get milk. If you are giving him all the milk he will take at a time it may be too much and upset his stomach. At that age he could also be getting milk scours, check his manure.
Is he also hunching his back up sometimes? It should be pretty level if he is comfortable. If it is hunched that is a sure sign that he has an upset stomach. He may just be trying to chew his cud though, spend some time with the ones that are with their mums. It may just be how baby lambs behave.
k Smith wrote:He does it mostly laying down, a few times standing up but mostly when he is just sitting there looking bored.
Looking bored is anthropomorphism, they are never bored, they rest! And when they have this look, I know my sheep are ruminating... (but not thoughts....)
You are just doing more than enough, you do not have to entertain him like some modern children when they are not in a natural environmet. All "kids" know how to behave from their CORE!
(I also understand you want to be sure you do the necessary)
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If he is eating well and active, I would not worry too much.
The lamb just might be a little stressed because sheep are flock animals and he has no flock being inside the house. I doubt it has nothing to do with ruminating because at two weeks old, it is way too early for that. It will not start investigating hay for another week or two. (You will know it when it does because it is so darn cute!)
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