Video: Step-by-step guide on how to tube feed a newborn lamb

At some stage throughout the lambing season, it is more than likely that a weak/lethargic lamb will have to be tube-fed.

Some lambs that are born are unable to suckler their mother; therefore, in order to ensure that the lamb survives and has every chance of pulling through, then it needs to be tube-fed colostrum.

Colostrum is the single most important feed a lamb will consume in the first few hours of life. So, it’s important that a lamb consumes an adequate amount.

In the video (below), vet Maureen Devaney, from Co. Roscommon, demonstrates how to tube feed a newborn lamb and the benefits of colostrum.

Colostrum offers a number of health benefits, and performs three very important roles in newborn lambs.

These include:

  • It provides an easily digestible source of energy and nutrients;
  • It provides antibodies which will form the newborn lamb’s passive immune system until it has a chance to develop its own active immune system;
  • It acts as a laxative to clean out the digestive tract of the newborn lamb.

A newborn lamb requires 50ml/kg of colostrum in the first six hours of life. Therefore, a lamb weighing 5kg requires 250ml of colostrum every six hours.

If a situation arises that a ewe has insufficient colostrum to feed her newborn lambs, then an alternative must be used.

For instance, colostrum from ewes that have one lamb or that lost their lambs can be used, provided that it is stored correctly.

Otherwise, a substitute colostrum can be used; however, some of these products don’t have an antibody content. Therefore, if possible, it is best to use these products as a top-up.

Another alternative option is if you know of any local dairy farmers that might be able to supply you with some cow beastings. However, this may be difficult to do at this stage of the year, as many farms are finished calving.