Help...newborns not getting milk from mother ewe

shp123

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We have twin boys from 12/26. They don’t seem to be getting milk from mom. We squeezed her teats and intermittently some milk squirted. Of course, we are newbies and may not know how to squeeze, but at least no wax blocking
The lambs are not getting milk, so we took them inside and tried to bottle feed them with collestrum (sp) replacement from Tractor supplies. The lambs took ages and still not get much milk in them. I even cut The nipples to allow better flow. Half an hour into it, they are not sucking more than a couple of fluid oz, mayeven be only due to drips wasted when I turned the bottle upside down.
we are at our wits end. Can someone help?
 

B&B Happy goats

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We have twin boys from 12/26. They don’t seem to be getting milk from mom. We squeezed her teats and intermittently some milk squirted. Of course, we are newbies and may not know how to squeeze, but at least no wax blocking
The lambs are not getting milk, so we took them inside and tried to bottle feed them with collestrum (sp) replacement from Tractor supplies. The lambs took ages and still not get much milk in them. I even cut The nipples to allow better flow. Half an hour into it, they are not sucking more than a couple of fluid oz, mayeven be only due to drips wasted when I turned the bottle upside down.
we are at our wits end. Can someone help?
@Beekissed , @Mike CHS @Baymule
 

frustratedearthmother

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Why do you believe they aren't getting milk? Are they going to the ewe and latching on? Newborns sheep and goats usually don't nurse for more than a few seconds at a time. Generally, if you feel right behind their rib cage you can get an idea if their tummies are round and full. If you can nearly touch your fingers together under their back bone then you're correct that they're running on empty. Is the mom letting them nurse?

Correct flow from a bottle should allow colostrum or milk to drip from the nipple, not stream out, and not have to be squeezed out. I raise goats - not sheep - but a quick Google search says that a newborn lamb should consume 16 ounces of colostrum in the first 24 hours. If you're feeding them every few hours they probably won't take more than a few ounces at a time. After 24 hours colostrum won't be absorbed and they should be drinking milk, hopefully from the mom.

As a side note - if they are really hungry they will probably be trying to nurse a LOT and probably crying. If they are getting enough from the ewe they will probably drink and then go nap.

Hopefully a sheep person will be along soon.
 

Duckfarmerpa1

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I was just going to ask, are they suckling? Did you put your two fingers inside to see if they can suck? You put it up to the roof of the mouth...this all from what I’ve read...so it could be off a bit, so hopefully someone will correct this info..but at least this can give you an idea?
 

frustratedearthmother

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Yes, a sucking reflex is pretty important! Also, what is their temp? Are they maintaining their temperature? If their temp is sub-normal you shouldn't feed them until they warm up. Normal temp for a lamb (according to google) is 102-103. If the lamb's temp is below 100 it is considered to be hypothermic.
 

Mini Horses

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So you've gotten the first basics -- lambs need to be warm and need to have a sucking reflex, they only nurse a short time. Beyond that, are their tails twitching? Usually that happens when they nurse. if they appear to be latched, lightly scratch just above their tail at the backbone, it's what their mom's do and it signals them to suckle.

Mom's milk is FAR better than any replacement, if you can milk her. But, warm kids & suckle are most important things you are looking for now. If a kid isn't seeming to latch on, I sometimes squirt a little on my finger, rub it on the teat, put my wet finger in their mouth and then move them to teat.

Of course, we are all assuming the ewe is friendly & co-operating with you there. Hope so.

Please, Let us know how they are doing. We care.
 

shp123

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Thank you all for the advice. The lambs were going to the nipples but were not able to latch on and the ewe turns away. Maybe she is sore.? Anyway, We took them in and gave them the colostrum replacement. They drank some bit not nearly enough I guess. W3 will put them back with the mom tomorrow to see if the situation improve. sigh. will be worried all night.
 

farmerjan

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Is it the ewe's first time? If she is not wanting them to suck, get her head contained. Someone can straddle her and make sure she cannot move. You will have to help them get on the teats, but if she cannot move then they should be able to latch on.
Is she a wool breed? Are the teats hard for the lambs to find? Most that have wool breeds, in days gone by, do what we call crutching them. They basically shear them around the back legs and all so there is nothing impairing the lambs from finding the teat.
How much space do they have to move around in? Most lambing jugs are little more than 2x3 or 3x4 feet. NOT much room on purpose. It helps the lamb to be able to find the teats and the ewe can't go far away. It helps a ewe to get the scent and bond with her own lambs. Most only have to stay in the jug for a couple of days. Some might take a week, I have had some that 24 hrs is enough.
The lambs will drink less than 1-2 oz at a time when first born. You should not give a baby, brand new lamb, more than 2 oz for it's first meal. Their stomachs are TINY. You will scour them if you overdo it at first. We don't feed the lambs more than 2-3 oz a feeding for the first week or two; 3-5 feedings a day. Have never fed a lamb more than 8 oz a feeding when they are several weeks old.
If you are having to bottle feed, then expect to feed no less than 5 times a day for the first 2 weeks. LESS MILK, MORE OFTEN is the only good way to do it. Then as they are doing better you can increase the amount and decrease the number of times.

I am thinking that you are giving the ewe too much room, and that the lambs might be getting some that you don't realize. If she totally refuses then she needs to go. If she is a first timer, then you need for the lambs to be penned with her in a small pen and then they can go to her whenever they want. And yes, she might be a little sore. But taking them away will not help her bond with them.

@Mini Horses is right about if they are wiggling their tail at all too.

If you cut the holes too big it will get down their windpipe. The holes are tiny to mimic what the ewes teats are like. They need to work at sucking not have it run down their throats.
 

Sheepshape

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Try holding the ewe and placing the lambs on the teats. If they suck, then they are taking what they want. (Try getting them to latch on to your finger and then transfer them across to mum's teats if they don't latch on.)

If you are REALLY worried, mum has plenty of milk, and the lambs won't latch on, then milk her down (grasp teat firmly, but gently, and tug gently with a slightly rotatory action). Milk mum until no more will come off and give this milk via the bottle....but persist in getting them to feed directly from mum.

Ewes can be quite sore when they first start to produce milk or have very swollen teats and occasionally need anti-inflammatories to enable them to suckle. The soreness and swelling usually eases after 24 hours.
 

Baymule

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Last year I had 2 first fresheners who walked away when their lambs tried to suckle. Their udders were swollen and sore. I put a rope around their neck and tied them to the fence, then pushed their back end against the fence, practically stood on my head and commenced milking into a baby bottle. I made sure the lambs got full little tummies of the colostrum. Then I plopped down on the dirt and put the lambs up to the udder, making the ewe stand still so they could latch on.

If you truly do wind up with bottle lambs and have to feed them, buy a gallon of whole cow milk, a can of evaporated Pet milk (NOT the condensed sweet Eagle brand kind) and cultured buttermilk. Take 2 cups of milk out of the gallon jug. Pour in a can of Pet milk and a cup of cultured buttermilk, shake jug and you have a better milk replacer that the powdered stuff.
 
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