Weaning Lambs

by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

For the purpose of this article we will consider weaning lambs that have had access to creep, have been in dry lot with their mothers, and are being weaned at approximately eight weeks of age.

First, let’s discuss the ewes. Grain should be removed two or three days prior to weaning and hay source should be medium quality grass hay. Water should not be withheld as it is impossible to water starve a ruminant and is added stress on an already stressed animal. Ewes should not be milked, only increases probability of mastitis. Observe for unilateral back leg laminitis, almost a sure sign of mastitis. Mastitis treatment is discussed in the mastitis article. Milking out a mastitis half may be indicated.

If ewes are to be bred, introduce rams at weaning or before. If you intend to use CIDRs insert at them at weaning.

When possible, leave lambs in their surroundings and move the ewes. Lambs should be offered same feed and hay as they had in creep free choice. A 16% texturized creep containing adequate Vitamin E and Deccox is ideal. Be sure free choice loose salt is available and make sodium bicarbonate available free choice as well. Avoid any added phosphorus. Clean, fresh water is extremely important.

Lambs should be vaccinated for entertoxemia, CD, which may be repeated in two weeks. I have been getting by with one vaccination but lambs have had CDT at processing. This vaccination is to prevent enterotoxemia which is a disease that occurs when lambs are on feed for a while and is not to be confused with acidosis.

About Ask-a-Vet Sheep

Veterinary services, procedures, biologicals, and drugs mentioned in this publication represent the personal opinions and clinical observations of the contributing author. They are in no way intended to be interpreted as recommendations without the consent of the producer’s own practicing Veterinarian. We strongly urge that producers establish a patient-client-veterinarian relationship that allows extra-label use when there are no drugs approved for treatment or if approved drugs are not effective. This procedure allows veterinarians to go beyond label directions when “prudent use” is necessary. The limited availability of drugs and biologics in this country is a major factor in restricting the growth of the sheep industry and allowing producers to compete in the world market place.
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