Fun with Bottle Babies

In 2009 we had a bottle baby, Eve.  We were fortunate in that she was never weak – we got her from a breeder at 2 hours old because she was the smallest triplet. She had a nice long drink from mom, and colostrum from our freezer. She grew into a nice, healthy lamb.

Eve at 2 weeks old

We had some scouring with the powdered lamb milk replacer (by the way – always use LAMB milk replacer, not “universal” or calf formulas). I was advised by experienced shepherds to try the following homemade formula: 1 gallon whole cow’s milk from the grocery store, 1 cup whole buttermilk (if you can get it – but at least 1% if you can’t), 1 can evaporated (not condensed) milk. Not only is it much less expensive, we have had about 8 oz. gain per day which is comparable to our mom-raised babies, given her smaller size.

We started out feeding 6 times a day for about 4 days, then 5 times, now at 2 weeks, we are at 4 times (on the 12’s and the 6’s roughly). I have been weighing her daily and feeding a little more than 20% of her body weight per day (i.e., 11 lb. lamb gets 35 oz. per day). This is more food than most articles I have read, and I suspect it is because the homemade formula is easier to digest but they need more of it. She just wasn’t gaining well on the commercial formula because she kept scouring. When a bottle baby scours, you need to remove the milk and feed only pedialyte (or other electrolytes) until they are gone. So, I am making gradual adjustments based on her gain and the, um, “quality” of her poo. The key word here is gradual.

Eve is still in the house until we have some lambs her size to hang around with, and until she can handle being out in the cold weather without the benefit of a mom. In the meantime, I have been taking her out under supervision with the flock so that they can get used to each other. The yearlings are very curious about her but more than one or two swooping in on her at once make her nervous.

The moms, especially those who are due soon, all come and check her out — “How did Bucket Lady get her own lamb?”

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