The other day it was cold and rainy. When we got home Randy found a newborn baby lamb laying in the lot without a mama insight. We found the mama and put her in a pen with the baby. She wanted nothing to do with the little lamb. She butted her with her head, refused to let her nurse, and never even cleaned her.
In the mama’s defense she was a first-timer and apparently just not ready to be a mama. The baby’s mouth was cold by now. Who knows how long she had laid out in the rain that day. I took her inside, put her in a warm bath, and gave her some dextrose. After a hot bath, a shot of energy, and some blow drying to dry her off and warm her up she was ready for a bottle and sent back outside with her mama.
After three days in a lambing pen with her mama and still no signs of motherly instinct the baby was pulled from her mama and the ewe was put in a pen to dry off her milk supply. In that time we had held the mama so the baby could nurse every 4-6 hours and supplemented her with a bottle. She just wasn’t up for the task of mothering her little one.
We were to the point where we could have started weaning our bottle lambs to two bottles a day instead of three. With this new addition we are back to doing a bottle every 4-6 hours for the first week. Not at all what we had hoped for, but she’s adorable and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We have a ewe, Ebony, squeezing into our creep feeder somehow. So last night Randy tightened the entrance (twice because she could still fit after the first adjustment) so she couldn’t get in there and hung a bucket for our bottle lambs to nurse instead of bottles. Ebony was a bottle and bucket lamb not so very long ago and has not forgotten the pleasures of milk replacer. We had to make sure there was no way she could get in or the bucket would be gone in a matter of minutes.
The bucket is filled with milk and a frozen 2 liter of water to keep the milk cold. This prevents the lambs from overeating, but ensures they have access to milk as often as they need it. Our’s has three nipples along the bottom to allow enough access for all our bottle lambs. Our little orphan lamb was the first to pick up on the bucket. It seems the younger they are the better they adjust. It had just been too cold for us to feel comfortable making them drink cold milk from a bucket. Finally, with temperatures in the 40s at night and 60s during the day (at least for now) they are officially on a bucket and seem to be picking up on the idea well enough.
No more rushing home to do bottles then turning around and doing them again before bed. No more midnight bottle feedings. No more 3:30 in the morning feedings. Our lives are FINALLY getting back to normal. If you have sheep and have not used a bucket of cold milk for your bottle lambs, you just haven’t lived yet. They are WONDERFUL!