Sheep colostrum in the first 24 hours is the most important meal a lamb will get in its entire life

Colostrum quality

Colostrum contains antibodies that the lamb needs to develop immunity. These antibodies can only be absorbed during the first 24 hours after birth. Therefore, every lamb needs 100ml/kg bodyweight of sheep colostrum in the first four hours of life and a total of 200ml/kg bodyweight before the end of its first day.

Colostrum management for lambs

Antibodies in sheep colostrum are crucial for lambs. It is important that the lamb gets sufficient colostrum in the first 24-36 hours of life.

Ewes should be kept in the location where they are going to lamb for at least 14 days prior to lambing. This ensures the colostrum for lambs will have antibodies specific to the environment the lamb will be born in. After the lambs are born, strip each teat to remove the wax plug and make sure the ewe has enough colostrum to feed her lambs. Lambs should be monitored closely to make sure they nurse. Lambs that have nursed will have a full stomach upon palpation. Alternatively, milk the ewe and feed the lamb the first 100 ml of lamb colostrum with a bottle.

Sheep colostrum stock or replacer

A stock of sheep colostrum to feed lambs from ewes that do not have sufficient colostrum for their lambs can be built by milking out ewes that have extra colostrum and freezing it for later use. Ewes giving birth to singles often have enough colostrum for other lambs. An alternative for building a stock of sheep colostrum would be to feed the lamb colostrum powder, which can be mixed with warm water, and can be used as a colostrum replacer for lambs. 

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