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Rearing Lambs

 

 

 

Our vaccination recommendations

If you are unsure whether your lamb has been vaccinated - vaccinate with lamb vaccine - especially at or before docking.
At ringing or two weeks of age (whichever is sooner) inject Lamb Vaccine plus 1st shot of 5in1 vaccine.
Four weeks later inject 2nd shot of 5in1 vaccine, followed by an annual booster.  This vaccine prevents pulpy kidney disease, tetanus, black disease, malignant odedema and blackleg.  
 

These diseases can kill the healthiest and largest of lambs, usually around pet days.




 
Preventing Clostridial disease in reared lambs
Most orphan lambs have been rescued out in the lambing paddock.  It is not possible to know if the lamb has received adequate colostrum from its mother in its first 24 hours of life.
Although the lambs mother may have been vaccinated prior to lambing, we should assume that it is at risk of death from Clostridial disease, such as Tetanus or Pulpy Kidney




 
Drenching
Drenching is an important part of rearing lambs when they start grazing grass.  Drench at about six weeks old and again at ten weeks with a combination drench such as First.  This drench does not cover lice, which are usually treated soon after shearing with a pour-on or spray product.  
At weaning, and every four weeks through summer and autumn your lamb will need a drench with a combination drench such as Matrix.  Remember to treat with products to prevent flystrike and facial eczema as well.



 
Abomasal bloat in lambs
Even if you are not familiar with the name, it is likely that you have or will encounter this condition if you are rearing lambs.  It can cause up to 30% of reared lambs to die before weaning.

Typically within 30 minutes of feeding warm milk, the 2-4 week old lamb will become bloated.  Pain, colic and death can occur quickly in severe cases if not treated.  Even in mild cases that progress in severity with each feed, treatment is often not successful and the prognosis is guarded.

The answer lies in prevention.  Feeding cold milk in amounts less than 150mls per feed is likely to be safer.  There is a link with Clostridial bacteria and vaccination with 5in1 is urged.

Another species of Clostridial bacteria Cl. Sordelli has also been implicated.  Its recent inclusion in Ultravac 6in1 makes it a good choice. 

A meal such as Mooslie provided from day 5 to day 28 also develops the rumen to adapt to grass earlier.

The most proven method of prevention is feeding soured milk to lambs.  Sour milk is made by adding acidophilus yoghurt to milk replacer and leaving it to convert for three days.  .  No lambs were lost from abomasal bloat when soured milk was fed to lambs.  Despite once per day ad-lib feeding from day 5.

Soured milk recipe
Starter
Add 20mls of acidophilus yoghure to 0.5 litres calf milk replacer at 40∘C and keep warm for 24 hours

Sour Milk
  1. Put 3 litres of warm (40∘C) water in a 7.5 litre container.  Add 1kg of calf milk replacer and 0.2 litres of starter
  2. Mix until smooth, cover and keep warm till set (24hrs) and leave for a further 24 hours
  3. Remove 0.2 litres of top crust to use as the starter for the next bath and store it in a refrigerator or cool place
  4. Thoroughly mix the remaining sour milk and sieve to remove lumps 
  5. Add water to make 8 litres
Soured milk will last up to five days in a cool place.
Days  
1-2 Warm cow colostrum five times daily
3-4 Warm calf milk replacer four times daily
5-21 Cold soured milk once daily and ad-lib meal
22-28 As above plus pasture
28-42 Restrict meal.  Wean at 20kg onto ryegrass / white clover pasture




 
Caring for Orphan Lambs

When rescuing an orphan lamb from a paddock, it is impossible to know if it has received adequate colostrum from its mother in the first 24 hours of life.
 
Although the mother may have been vaccinated prior to lambing, we should assume not. Likewise, the person supplying your lamb may or may not have vaccinated it with lamb vaccine.  
 
If you are unsure in either scenario, you should do this, at or before docking. Lamb vaccine protects against tetanus and pulpy kidney for 2 weeks. Within two weeks of this vaccine, the lamb will need two 5-in-1 vaccines, 4 weeks apart. This vaccine prevents pulpy kidney disease, tetanus, black disease, malignant oedema and blackleg. These diseases can kill the healthiest and largest of lambs, usually just before pet day!
 
To be absolutely protected, your lamb should also receive a 5-in-1 vaccine at weaning (or after 12 weeks) and then be given an annual booster.
 
Drenching is an important part of rearing lambs when they start grazing grass. Treat with an oral drench at about 6 weeks and again at 10 weeks. At weaning and every four weeks through summer and autumn, your lamb will need a drench with a combination drench such as “Matrix”.
 
This drench does not cover lice, which are usually treated soon after shearing with a pour-on or spray product. Remember to treat with products to prevent fly strike and facial eczema as well.