Lamb Rearing

Guide To Rearing Your Lamb
A pdf version for printing can be found here.

lamb rearing-35Selection of the Lamb
Lambs are usually found via local contacts. Check at the school office for anyone that may have notified the school of availability of lambs.
The lamb should be chosen no earlier than 3 days after birth but preferably 5 days after birth, this allows the lamb to have its mother’s colostrum, which gives protection against diseases and is high in both vitamins and minerals.
On occasion lambs have been rejected by their mother, orphaned or are one of triplets, in which case one is removed from the mother as she is not able to adequately feed 3 of them. In these cases the lamb may not have received colostrum.
The healthy lamb should have a dry small navel, lively movements, and clear bright eyes.
Your lamb will need to have its tail docked (a rubber ring placed around the tail). This can be done from a week old, the sooner the better, before the tail gets too big.
If a ram (male) is chosen, he should be wethered with a rubber ring from 1 week old, otherwise he will possibly become aggressive as he reaches maturity. Ensure both testicles are down before releasing the ring.
Basic rearing needs
  • 2 x 10kg bags of milk powder
  • 2 x lamb teats (it pays to have a spare in case they get chewed)
  • Or complete bottle and teat + spare teat
  • Lamb or multifeed pellets
  • Collar and lead
  • Drench
  • Vaccine
  • Cover (optional)

Lamb milk powders are specially formulated to meet the needs of your lamb. Lamb teats that can screw onto a coke or water bottle or complete lamb feeding bottles are available from Franklin Vets.
Mixing and feeding instructions are clearly written on the bag. Avoid sudden changes in the type (brand), quantity or temperature of milk or milk powder.
For best results milk feed your lamb until Ag day. When feeding your lamb in the first 5 days, watch that its tummy doesn’t get over distended. As a guide, feed 20% of body weight daily split into 5 small feeds. For example, a 3kg lamb needs 600mls per day fed at 120 ml per feed. Thoroughly clean bottles and teats after each feed.
Supplement the milk with a lamb or multi-feed pellet and if your lamb is tethered keep moving it regularly so that it has access to fresh grass.
Scours - If your lamb scours,
  • Alternate between 120 ml milk and 120ml of good quality electrolyte such as Diarrest® or Revive®.  This should be done over 6 feeds a day leaving 30 minutes at least between feeds.   As the scouring improves, electrolyte feeds can be slowly replaced with milk feeds over a period of 2-3 days.
  • If the lamb will not suckle tube feeding will be necessary.
  • Keep it in a clean, dry drought free environment and keep warm (hot water bottles are great) or a lamb cover
Vaccination and Drenching
If the mother of your lamb was not vaccinated with a 5 in 1 one month prior to lambing or if you do not know if it was vaccinated, the lamb should be vaccinated with a lamb vaccine (PK/Antitet) from 1 week old.
If the lamb has come from a vaccinated mother and has had adequate colostrum in the first day of its life it will have protection for about 3 months.
Your lamb should also be vaccinated with a 5 in 1 vaccine at weaning (or 3 months) and then given a booster shot 1 month later and thereafter once a year. This vaccine prevents pulpy kidney disease, tetanus, black disease, malignant oedema and blackleg.
These diseases can kill the healthiest and largest of lambs.
Drench at about 4 - 6 weeks old and again at 10 weeks.
Housing Requirements
A dry, draught free house or kennel is required. Lamb covers are available from your local farm outlet. Sudden changes in temperature when it is small can cause pneumonia and it will grow better if it is not using energy to keep warm.
Daily Care
  • Regular feeding
  • Wash its face to remove any milk residue
  • Walk it on a lead and play with it
  • Practice calling your lamb before each feed
Points to remember
  • Lambs should NOT be brushed – this is an instant disqualification
  • Hooves should be trimmed and clean
  • Trim any dags to tidy up around the lamb’s rear end
  • Make sure your pet’s face and ears are clean
Poisonous Plants

Lambs have a love of garden plants, however they are unfortunately not able to determine which ones are poisonous. Many plants that are potentially poisonous or have poisonous parts are found in our gardens at home.

Here are some examples: 
Box (Buxus) and its relations such as the Allegheny spurge used for ground cover. Also many plants in the forget-me-not family which have harsh bristly leaves, and bracken or rarauhe. Members of the erica or rhododendron family eg. calico bush and its close relations. Camelia, dahpne, azalea, daffodil, delphinium, ferns, snowflake and snowdrop, hyacinths, hemlock, cress, red maple, oak, oleander, arums, ivy and five finger, swan plant, heathers and rhododendrons, lilies, poppies, clematis, cyclamen, poinsettia, hemlock, titoki, fox-gloves and snapdragons and rhubarb leaves. Many species in the large legume or pea family and the rose, peach and apple family are poisonous to some extent.
General ribbons are presented in three age groups – Junior, Intermediate and Senior; and then a overall winner in the following categories.  Check details with your school.
  • Rearing – general appearance, condition, size with the lamb’s age taken into consideration.
  • Calling – the lamb needs to come directly to you when called from a minimum distance of 4-5 metres (this distance will vary depending on the judge) and the child must be able to hook its lead back on.
  • Leading – the lamb needs to walk through the course without dragging or pushing.
  • Best Pet – bond between the lamb and the child. Observed throughout the day.
NOTE; Your child should know the breed, age and general feeding requirements (how many times a day it is being fed) of the lamb as some judges will ask.
Tips for success
  • The child should always feed the lamb, mum or dad can assist younger children if needed. It is important to ensure the milk is mixed correctly.
  • Give your lamb a treat when leading and calling. Use the pellets or they often like raisins. Even a hug, pat and a few kind words are beneficial.
  • Spend lots of time with your lamb so you build a bond and it will come when called.
  • Set a course up at home and walk your goat daily. Make sure you include a small fence post or piece of wood so the lamb gets used to stepping over it. They mustn’t touch the wood. Walk your lamb around your property, the more practice the better.
  • Don’t forget to take its food and water requirements with you on Ag day.

Good Luck and most important of all……. enjoy.