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calling all lamb experts!

 
Berry Chechy
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Hello,

I will be getting my first ever lamb in a couple weeks, what advice can you give me? I will be bottle feeding. I plan to keep it very close by basically until it grows out of the extra large dog crate we have. After that into the yard close to the house.

What do you recommend for formula? I am also looking for another lamb to keep her company asap.

 
Su Ba
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I only crate my bottle lambs for as long as it takes for them to bond to me and come when I "baaaaa" for them. For some lambs it is one day. For the slow learners it could be 5-6 days. Once they bond and consistently come when I call and follow me around, I leave them loose in the area around the house. Then in a few days I'd begin taking them for walks in the pasture, introducing them to the flock. Some of the lambs have had strong flocking instincts and readily grafted to the other sheep. Others didn't and had to be forced the learn that they were a sheep and not a dog.

Now weather may have a bearing upon the process. If the lamb is weak for some reason, or if the weather is really bad, then the lamb will need closer attention. I live where the weather is usually mild enough not to jeopardize a lamb.

As for formula, I use Land O Lakes lamb milk replacer. It is very accessible for me. But I'm sure other brands will work as long as its for lambs.

Best of luck to your lamb. May it grow healthy and strong!
 
Katie Brown
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Location: Wyoming
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I've been raising bum lambs since 1994. The first thing you have to learn is that lambs are born to die! NO JOKE. Everything eats them and their give up factor is around 90%.

Whatever you choose for a replacer, I prefer goat's milk, keep the mix consistent by weighing the powder and using the exact same measuring cup each time for the water. Decide whether you are feeding hot, warm, or cold water and don't change it. The biggest loss in bums is scours and bloat. Those are usually caused by changes in diet, but they can also be caused by stress. Also, your feeding times for the first week should be fairly exact. After a week it is okay to vary by 30 minutes or so, but not much over that. If you miss a feeding, DON'T give extra.

Lambs count on others to stay warm. They snuggle with their mother or pile in groups. I use dog coats from Wal-Mart that I got for a buck to keep them warm even if they are inside. These coats work well on the girls; however the boys are a bit harder. If you wait to move them outside until later, you will have over a week of no sleep at night and no peace when they can't see you during the day. Start them where you want to finish them, just make it smaller.

Love on your lambs, but don't let them climb on you. I just put a very nice ewe in the freezer because she learned to jump on me as a bum and kept on as a 125 pound adult. As I also learned early, "bum rushed" is a very real problem. 10 or more bums clambering at once to be fed can create quiet a tripping hazard.

Lambs can be enjoyable. They are a lot of hard work and make very little profit. Good Luck.
 
Su Ba
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Katie is right, there is no fiscal profit in rising bummers. That's why the farmers around here won't bother to bottle feed a lamb. Another thing she is right on about is the set of lungs on a lamb. They can holler for days when force weaned. That's why I graft mine to the flock as own as possible, while they are real young. They live out with the flock and just come to me for the bottle. But I had to make a set up where the lamb can be separate from the flock for its bottle because the adults that had been bottle raised as babies also try to horn in on the action.

I usually only have one or two lambs on the bottle at a time, so I can handle them no problem. At one time I had 5 and I got mobbed! I had to modify my pen to accommodate five lambs in order to prevent the chaos and from being climbed on.

I never carry a lamb around, sit in the ground with one, and never ever let it climb into my lap. What they learn as babies the carry for the rest of their lives. It may be cute at 15 lbs and dangerous at 150 lbs.

Raising a bummer can be fun, but it also can be expensive, time consuming, tedious, and a pain in the neck.
 
Berry Chechy
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Thanks for the replies.

Su, I had a question, I've read other posts of your and you mentioned that you raise hair sheep? What breed do you recommend? Also what age do you butcher lamb?
 
Su Ba
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My sheep are all mixes, but all hair breeds. All appear to be based upon St Croix, which seems to the most common breed type around my island. There is Barbados Black Belly is some, Dorper in others. Judging upon the farms where I acquired my original sheep, I'd venture a guess to say there aren't any other breeds in my flock right now. One of my rams is a St Croix-BBB mix. The other is a St Croix-Dorper mix. That's only an educated guess, but it's close enough.

Why don't I have purebreds? They aren't readily available to me. I would really like to have pure Barbados Black Belly, but I haven't seen any being offered. Pure Dorpers are available but I don't find them to have good parasite resistance, plus then tend to keep a rug on their back for too long during the shedding season. Flystrike is a serious concern in my area, so I have to hand cut that rug off. Pure St Croix are the easiest to find, but they are all white.......boring. Yeah boring. I like having a colored flock.

I know that a sheep can be butchered at any age. I've had them both young and old. Personally I prefer 4 month old lambs. Nothing wrong with one year old lamb either, but 4 months are super prime in my book. I've had 8 year old ewes that were good too, but I grind the whole carcass. As ground meat they are good in most recipes.
 
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