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How to wean bottle baby lambs

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hello all,

I have 2 bottle baby lambs that are 1 month old now.  I want to start weaning them but I can't get them to drink water out of a bucket.  They are eating grass and they started nibbling at the sheep feed but what they really want is their bottle.

I try to get them to drink water out of the bucket but they aren't interested in it at all.  I then feel like I am forced to give them water in a bottle.

I don't know what to do.  Do I just stop giving them the bottle of water and they will eventually get thirsty enough to drink out of a bucket?  I'm just scared they will get dehydrated since it is starting to get hotter here during the day.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Thanks.

Tami

post #2 of 13

4 weeks isn't old enough to wean.  Sheep are very similar to goats, you need to wait until 8 weeks at the very least to wean them.  They should still be getting milk, not just water. 

After that, do not give them water in a bottle, that is counterproductive to your intent.  Instead, try gradually lessening (after 8 weeks) the amount of milk you are feeding.  Not having full bellies will encourage them to look elsewhere for food and water.

Orchid dreams of Maple.  It's like "I Dream of Jeannie", without the harem pants...
Also, wegotchickens is a post Nazi. 
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Orchid dreams of Maple.  It's like "I Dream of Jeannie", without the harem pants...
Also, wegotchickens is a post Nazi. 
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post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Interesting.  The lamb milk container says to wean at 4-6 weeks and the other lamb sites I've read also say 30 days.

Thanks.

Tami

post #4 of 13

Hey Tami,
This is going to sound cruel but the best way to get them to drink out of a bucket is to force them.  I would suggest for the next week starting with full strength milk in a bucket.  You will have to force thier heads into the milk and hold it for a couple second.  I usually tipped the bucket a little so that thier little noses would stay out of the milk.  They will fight you and just let them up every few seconds to breath but as soon as they taste the milk they should start drinking.  Then over the week add more and more water to dilute the milk until you dont have any more replacer.  It is always so much fun feeding with a bottle but the longer they are on the bottle the harder it is to get them to drink out of the bucket.  You can feed the replacer for 4 to 12 weeks without much problems.  It really depends on how hardy they are.  If they are getting enough nutrients from feed they will not need as much milk.  I have fought with a calf, goat, and sheep to break them to a bucket and each time ended up soaked in replacer a few times before we both got the hang of it.  Every time I get an animal that needs feeding my hubby says go right to the bucket and I of course will get the bottle out and regret it later.  Good luck and try to stay dry.  Jenn

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1 DH,4 kids, 10 guineas, 1 guinea call duck, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 14 alpacas.
www.funnyfacesranch.com
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post #5 of 13

Taken from "Sheep Raising 101"

Early Weaning
Early weaning is a relative term, but implies weaning at any time after 21 days of age, but usually before 90 days. 60 days is a common weaning age in intensively managed sheep operations. Early weaning can be successful provided lambs are drinking water and consuming adequate amounts of feed. Creep feeding is essential to an early weaning program.The size of the lamb at weaning is generally more important than its actual age. As a rule of thumb, most lambs can be weaned at 60 days of age or 45 pounds, whichever comes first (though this will vary by breed).

Orchid dreams of Maple.  It's like "I Dream of Jeannie", without the harem pants...
Also, wegotchickens is a post Nazi. 
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Orchid dreams of Maple.  It's like "I Dream of Jeannie", without the harem pants...
Also, wegotchickens is a post Nazi. 
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post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks.  I will just keep bottle feeding them then.  I wonder why the guidelines on the milk replacer container and the websites for the other lamb milk replacer say to wean at 4-6 weeks.

Take care,

Tami

post #7 of 13

I rear orphan lambs every year and raise them for the first month in my home (in diapers).  They drink from a water bowl, by themselves, pretty early on and I follow the directions on the milk replacement. By the time they are 4 weeks I am feeding them 10 ounces of milk three times daily and grass hay with a little kibble. I start weaning them in-between 4 and 6 weeks when I place them outside in the pasture.  I begin by dropping off their morning bottle (they are not too happy but adjust quickly), after three or four days I then drop their lunch time bottle followed by the evening bottle 3 or 4 days later.  Some people stop all feeds at one time...which works. But I feel one feed at a time is less stressful for them.  By 4 weeks of age the lambs reared by their mothers are eating and drinking a lot more hay/grain and water than my hand reared little ones...so I like to get them outside and onto pasture etc as soon as possible. When you drop their bottle...they quickly learn to eat other things. Good Luck.

post #8 of 13
T
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkcove08 View Post

Hey Tami,

This is going to sound cruel but the best way to get them to drink out of a bucket is to force them.  I would suggest for the next week starting with full strength milk in a bucket.  You will have to force thier heads into the milk and hold it for a couple second.  I usually tipped the bucket a little so that thier little noses would stay out of the milk.  They will fight you and just let them up every few seconds to breath but as soon as they taste the milk they should start drinking.  Then over the week add more and more water to dilute the milk until you dont have any more replacer.  It is always so much fun feeding with a bottle but the longer they are on the bottle the harder it is to get them to drink out of the bucket.  You can feed the replacer for 4 to 12 weeks without much problems.  It really depends on how hardy they are.  If they are getting enough nutrients from feed they will not need as much milk.  I have fought with a calf, goat, and sheep to break them to a bucket and each time ended up soaked in replacer a few times before we both got the hang of it.  Every time I get an animal that needs feeding my hubby says go right to the bucket and I of course will get the bottle out and regret it later.  Good luck and try to stay dry.  Jenn
no you don't. If you force them you break their trust. The best way is to slowly reduce the amount in the bottles and leave fresh water available. They will get curious and sniff around and usually drink it after a few days
28 Chooks, 2 dogs, 2cats, 2 Budgies, 2 Dorper poddys(one older), 2 Other poddys, 66 Dorper Ewes, 2 Dorper rams and 20 or so Dorper lambs. Welcome Home 5 Little Chicks and Padfoot the rooster
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28 Chooks, 2 dogs, 2cats, 2 Budgies, 2 Dorper poddys(one older), 2 Other poddys, 66 Dorper Ewes, 2 Dorper rams and 20 or so Dorper lambs. Welcome Home 5 Little Chicks and Padfoot the rooster
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post #9 of 13

The post that says ''force your lamb'' is very right, that is cruel. -_- The best way to wean a lamb is have patience, by forcing it to drink and shoving it's head in a bucket I've actually seen lambs become scared of it. Just don't do it.

 

Weaning lambs is tricky, especially if they particularly like their bottle.

 

Don't continue giving them water out of the bottle, slowly cut down their milk intake for the day and always have hard food (grass, lamb pellets ect) and water available and easily accessible for them. By cutting down their milk they get a little bit hungry and are encouraged to find water and food elsewhere.

 

I don't usually put them onto a bucket when weaning as I find they go onto hard food pretty easily if it's there for them to nibble on during the day. If you wish too though, I'd recommend offering them the bucket of milk first. If they don't immediately drink from it (this actually sometimes happens) get them sucking on your fingers and slowly lower your fingers into the bucket of milk. They'll continue sucking your fingers once they are slightly submerged in the milk, by doing this they get the milk at the same time. Later on you can just take your fingers away, they'll usually get the idea.

 

Sometimes it takes several attempts to get them to drink from the bucket as they don't like having things around their head or eyes but if you have patience and keep encouraging them, they should get the idea soon enough. :) Good luck with it and hopefully your bubs will do well! ^.^

post #10 of 13
@animals4life I love your profile picture! Very cute!
28 Chooks, 2 dogs, 2cats, 2 Budgies, 2 Dorper poddys(one older), 2 Other poddys, 66 Dorper Ewes, 2 Dorper rams and 20 or so Dorper lambs. Welcome Home 5 Little Chicks and Padfoot the rooster
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28 Chooks, 2 dogs, 2cats, 2 Budgies, 2 Dorper poddys(one older), 2 Other poddys, 66 Dorper Ewes, 2 Dorper rams and 20 or so Dorper lambs. Welcome Home 5 Little Chicks and Padfoot the rooster
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