Monday, March 4, 2013

Fostering Lambs




If you have an orphan lamb or a lamb that is not getting enough milk from their mother then you may consider lamb fostering.
Lamb fostering is when you find a surrogate mother in the form of a ewe that is willing or that can be convinced to take on another lamb.
Ewes usually are not willing to take on another ewes lamb but there are some tricks of the trade that can be used.

If a ewes lamb has just died you can rub her birth fluids on your orphan and let the ewe think that your orphan lamb is her lamb. This is known as wet fostering. Keep and eye on them to see that they bond.


Sometimes its best to tie the orphan lambs two back legs lightly with a string so his movements seem more like a newborn lamb. Untie after an hour. This is often the most successful. Leave together in small pen.

You could also try putting the dead lambs fleece on the orphan lamb to fool the sheep into thinking your orphan lamb is hers. Leave the fleece on  the lamb for two to three hours.

You could trick a ewe into thinking that she had twins by rubbing the fluids on her newborn lamb onto your orphan lamb and her after birth fluids. Pay particular attention to the lambs head, ears, and rear. This is also wet fostering. Lightly tie the lambs back legs with some string. Untie the legs after an hour. Leave them all together in a small pen.

The ewe is able to identify her lamb from the flock by smelling its head and rear end. To cause confusion to the ewe which in time will get her to take on the orphan as her own rub strong smelling solutions on the orphans tail and head and on the ewes original lambs tail and head.
You can use antiseptic,vicks vapa rub or olive oil. You can rub these on the muzzle of the ewe also.


You could hold the ewe and let the lamb suck of her. Keep the lamb in a pen next to the ewe. For each feed for a few days you should hold the ewe and let the lamb suck. It takes four hours for the milk to pass through the digestive system of the lamb. Eventually the ewe will accept the lamb as her own. Be careful that the ewe does not kick or head but the lamb.The ewes milk will make a particular smell on the lamb and its poop which will prompt her her acceptance.




Some ewes are more open to fostering than others. Also some lamb are easier to foster. An older ewe is sometimes more reluctant than a younger ewe to foster.

There are commercial products available to aid in the lamb fostering process such as Macwells Fostering Oil. The oil is highly concentrated. You put a few drops on the ewes nose and a few drops on the lambs head and tail.

You could use a lamb adopter. The ewe should be restrained by the adopter for each feeding of the lamb. After 48 hours release the ewe from the adopter.

Don't leave a ewe long without a lamb.

Sheep are not stupid so when you are wanting to do an adoption try to match the ewe with a orphan lamb that is similar to her in character and appearance. You do not want to arose her suspicion. A quiet ewe should be matched with a placid lamb of similar appearance. A ewe that likes to move alot and has lots of energy would prefer a more hyper lamb.

A dog is sometimes a great help in speeding up the adoption. Have the dog sit near the adoption pen. The ewes natural protective instinct will be triggered with the sight of the dog. She will form a mothering bond with the orphan.

There is also another commercial product called the foster coat. The smell from the ewes original lamb is transferred onto the foster coat and then onto the orphan.

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