Whilst lambing season on British farms can happen any time between December and April, this does usually depend on the farm and whereabouts you live. However, with Easter fast approaching we are currently in the height of the season, and newborn lambs are aplenty! The season is very hands on for farmers, and with so many newborn lambs fighting for survival and trying to find their feet, it can be a hectic time. The majority of lambs are born without assistance and are usually taken away from their mother soon after. They are also naturally born with no immune system which makes them susceptible to infections and diseases. There are many ways that you can help a newborn lamb survive within the first few hours of their life, and feeding them colostrum is key to their chance of survival.
What is colostrum?
Colostrum is key in reducing losses in lambs due to hypothermia and other diseases. It is designed to be the first feed that should be given to newborn lambs due to its protein rich formula which carries specific antibodies which will help to provide the lamb with immunity against infections. Colostrum is also high in energy to help them kick start their body, which will in turn help to maintain their body temperature, keeping them out of the danger zone of hypothermia. Colostrum can be used directly from the mother, be purchased pre-made for added ease, but it can also be made by hand with the right ingredients.
Colostrum is the key to helping newborn lambs survive, lambs are not born with a functioning immune system which means they are susceptible to a lot of infections and diseases that they won't have much chance of surviving by themselves. Because of this, colostrum is an incredibly important formula which gives the lambs a higher chance of survival.
Should all newborn lambs be fed colostrum?
Yes, all newborn lambs should be fed colostrum within the first 24 hours that they are alive. It is recommended that right at birth they should be administered with 50ml of colostrum to every kg, and then again every 6 hours for the first 24 hours. Generally speaking, smaller lambs that aren't thriving should have their intake increased 20-30%.
How should colostrum be administered?
Colostrum can easily be administered to newborn lambs with a syringe and plastic tube. This is the quickest and easiest way to administer it without causing injury to the lamb. However, it can also be administered via a stomach tube for a more rapid response. This is recommended for use on lambs who may be smaller than others or are more at risk to hypothermia and infections.
Colostrum really is the key to a successful lambing season. There are so many things to do when you are hand weaning your own lambs and working on a farm, along with excellent hygiene and careful management you are already giving your newborn lambs a head start with this feed! You can view our full range of lambing products here. Keep up to date with our latest blog posts and updates on the Waterman's Facebook page, Twitter and Google+.