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Straight Talk: December 2017

It is about that time of year that we should consider how we are going to handle our extra lambs. Probably the most difficult is determining what constitutes extra. The first consideration is to check the udder to determine if teats are all functional. That can be confusing as not all udders are full of milk at lambing and kidding. Some fill later but it is important to determine if the teat is functional. If it doesn’t appear there is adequate milk flow, further attention needs to occur for the newborn. This could involve tubing, with colostrum to give the udder a chance to catch up. Sometimes the teats are too big and milk flow is too heavy. In this case, milk needs to be removed so the newborn can nurse. Eventually, they will catch up. Never use a nipple bottle that teaches the lamb the wrong approach. Oxytocin to stimulate milk flow in sheep and goats is worthless. If milk flow is determined to be inadequate, then one or more newborns need to be pulled. In our flock (with usually twins or better) we can often tube lambs once or twice a day until they get going. Other producers may just pull them off. In any event, we have Quick Start, Baby Lamb Strength, Colostrum and Milk Replacer to use as necessary. In our fall lamb crop, we got by tubing several lambs for several weeks that we would have normally pulled but we were reluctant to set up a machine for a couple lambs. Lambing percentage is traditionally less in fall and ewes don’t milk as heavy.

Once that decision is made to pull the lamb or kid then one must make sure adequate colostrum has been provided. Dried cow colostrum products are the best. Frozen cow colostrum is ok for lambs, but not for goats. Pasteurization or drying is necessary for goats to prevent Johne’s disease. Some flocks with heavy milking dams colostrum can be accumulated, frozen and used later.

Once pulled there are three options to artificially raise a  new born. Bottle feed at scheduled intervals, bucket feed free choice cold or Lac-Tek Machine.

The first option to bottle feed is out in my opinion, too many times ends up in tragedy including abomasal bloat. The other two procedures with the right milk replacer and management can be a home run. The bucket method works and works for any number of lambs you just need more buckets and a good mixing operation if you have a lot of lambs. Lambs nurse at will and do well and need to be weaned at thirty days. The Lak- Tek machine if properly managed and maintained is the real deal once you cross a threshold of twenty lambs or so. Once you have a machine in operation it becomes less difficult to pull lambs. Once lambs have been trained on the machine you can often add additional lambs and they will actually start on their own. The advantages as I see it,  is that the milk is being continuously mixed and offered warm. The machine does the mixing. If you have a lot of lambs or kids this is a big deal. I would caution to never over concentrate the mixture, but stay on the lean side. Offer quality hay, creep feed and water free choice. Wan at thirty days, this is essential from a cost and mortality stand point.

I almost forgot, this article was to be about Milk Replacer. We have the best! I am sure you have heard this before. But think about it, as a sheep producer and a veterinarian why would I endorse the cheap spread. Most milk replacers contain a lot of whey. Why? To keep the cost down and the margin up. Generally dried skim milk is twice the price of whey. Our product is one of the few that lists skim milk as its first ingredient. Excess whey may lead to abomasal bloat. We also use Deccox to control coccidiosis and our milk also contains CITRISTIM to control enteric bacteria. The Lamb and Kid milk works for both species, it is diluted more for goats. We also now have Kid milk specially designed for goats.

4 thoughts on “Straight Talk: December 2017”

  • Kristy Wall

    Can you give me a quote on one pallet of your lamb milk replacer in preferably 50 pound bags, delivered to Jensen, Utah. 84035.
    Delivery date Feb. 15, 2018.

    Thank you,
    Kristy Wall

  • Robert maher

    Use your milk replacer all the time 6 to 8 bags a year works very well

  • Sharon Weigle

    Curious why the directions for dilution are different for lambs vs. goats. For goats it says 1.5 pints (24 oz) : 4oz powder

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