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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

Keeping sheep
..Nomenclature
...Slaughter practicality
...Jacobs
...Jacobs crosses
...Wool
...Ram management
...Winter
...Spring
>..- Feeding
...- Castration & strike
...Summer & autumn
...Milk
...Health
...Dipping

It is worth checking before lambing that the lambs will have good access to the milk.

Long straggly wool near the udder should be clipped away or lambs may suck on this instead of continuing to look for the real thing. A lamb that is slow in going for milk will receive encouraging butts in its bottom from an experienced ewe; if your ewe is not bothering, pat the lamb's rear yourself. Once a lamb is going well on the teat that should be the end of problems. A lamb that for some reason is removed totally from its mother must still have colostrum (the first milk). It is perfectly satisfactory to give it some from another newly lambed ewe. In fact, it freezes quite well so you can have a stock on hand. You can tell colostrum by its appearance: it is thick and yellow. Normal sheep's milk looks pretty much like cow's milk. The colostrum contains essential antibodies for the lamb's protection and lambs that do not receive ir are much more liable to infection. Once a lamb has been totally removed from its mother you either have to persuade another ewe to be Mum or do it yourself. The main cause of rejection from a new ewe will be smell. Sometimes you can confuse the ewe by spraying perfume over her face and then over the lamb. We have a friend who practises this method using overwhelming wafts of Chanel No. 5. Whatever the vet thinks when he visits he does not say. Neither does he say if his wife believes why he smells so exotic!

When you have tried all the tricks and are still faced with a hungry lamb, you must resort to the bottle. Feeding lambs is a delightful pastime unless you have other things that must be done. Every year we have to fight our daughter who would happily feed dozens of them. To start with, a baby's bottle is big enough just do not give it back to the baby! Soon you will need something bigger. Teats and substitute milk are available from some agricultural merchants and Boots' Farm Sales. Lambs will thrive on goat's milk but it is not advisable to let them suckle directly as their natural butting at the udder can damage the goat's large milk vessel. Many bottle-fed lambs go on to become family pets. They will follow you around even when they are fully grown. This is quite satisfactory with ewes; it is not so acceptable with rams. Bottle-fed ram lambs should be destined for the freezer. They are too casual with you and can be dangerous when fully grown. Even those breeds without horns can deliver a hefty blow and with horns, the possibilities are endless.

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