Monday, March 4, 2013

Lamb Scour

Scours cause diarrhea and usually occur in the first month of the lambs life.
Adequate intake of colostrum is the best protection against lamb scours. Good sanitation is also very important. Bad farm management leads to a higher risk of lamb scour. Bacterial scours are treated with antibiotics and fluids.
Scours can lead to dehydration and pneumonia and if untreated death.
Causes of the scour can be viral,parasitic,nutritional or environmental. Scours can be infectious.
Too much milk replacer or pelleted feed can cause scours in lambs.
Scouring lambs may appear gaunt,depressed with wet rear legs. They will loose condition very quickly.

Its best to remove the infected animals from the rest of the flock.

Contact your vet when you have an outbreak of scours. They can do fecal analysis to pinpoint the cause. An outbreak can lead to serious loss. Your vet may give fluid via iv drip and prescribe antibiotics.

If your lamb has scours try to figure out why so you can try to halt the spread of it to the other lambs.
Regular disinfecting of materials and facilities is vital towards prevention. Stresses such as the cold and wet for newborns is also important.
Ensure that the living environment of the lamb is not the cause. Remove unclean water and infected feces.
Provide the lambs with fresh bedding.
Viral and bacterial causes my be e-coli, salmonella, rota virus, crypotsoridium,  clostridium perfringes c, giardia.

Wear latex gloves when dealing with a lamb with scours as you do not want to get contaminated.

Treatment of Scour

Remove the potential cause of the scour.Perhaps its the lamb milk replacer or the pelleted feed.
You may want to administer halt scour and provide fresh water and hay.
If the lamb is suffering from hypothermia the lamb must be warmed before being feed the electrolyte.
The scouring lamb should be treated with oral antibiotics and electrolytes. Use a broad spectrum antibiotic.
Home made electrolyte can be made from warm water,baking soda, pinch of salt and corn syrup.
You can determine if the lamb is dehydrated by pulling on a pinch of skin.
Lambs with normal hydration will have elastic skin that will quickly return to normal.
Dehydrated lambs loose their skin elasticity and their skin will stay tented for two or more seconds.
You may have to give the electrolyte by stomach tube.
When the lamb is sick feed smaller amounts more often.
You can feed your sick lamb live yogurt.
Keep an account of your lambs rectal temperature until it returns to normal.

When feeding a lamb with scour you should prepare a bottle that contains 50%lamb milk and 50% electrolyte.
Lamb will continue to scour until the scours run their course and pass through the digestive system.
During the passing of the scour the lambs stools will be soft but not liquid.
Keeping the lamb hydrated during a scour outbreak is off great importance.
Fecal analysis can pinpoint the cause of the scour outbreak.


  1. Thank you so much for your help and comments. I'm a first time lamb's mum and know very little, my lamb Hank was delivered by me and being hand raised by me as his real mum had a very hard birth and no milk and later died so not a good outcome but thanks to your page I'm learning more all the time so on behalf of Hank and myself a big thank you .

  2. tried everything the vet suggested .....electrolytes , watered down milk , scour ban, probiaotics, yogurt, .....then I tried something new. Take about 8 very freshly passed scats from a healthy sheep ( i.e. no worms) and use a blender to mix in with the milk. Within 48 hours yours lamb will be passing nuggets.

  3. Old thread but now it's gonna be bumped.

    4 day old premerure abandoned lamb. Given cows colostrum initially for 48 hours then onto lamb formula. I over endugled her .... the scours started in earnest today but had been creeping in yesterday. Lots of mucus and peeing etc ... but reduced formula intake.and stopped it when I got some sheep elanco scour formula. Had antibiotics too. So question is should she now be back on some small amount of formula because she's bellowing like hell. ... some say 5 days of electrolytes hold the milk. But she is 1.7kg and can't really afford to wait. Any help appreciated

  4. 5 days of electrolytes is too long, 24 hrs is the correct amount of time, then re introduce milk replacer slowly, she is too tiny to be without milk for 5 days, bad advice....

  5. My three week old lamb has scours I have been giving her the electrolyte mix three times a day as packet says and her milk feeds in between. She continues to be runny. Am I supposed to just feed her the electrolytes for a period of time and withhold the milk feeds

    1. Ps she seems fully of energy and has been on the electrolytes for two days now

  6. My three week old bottle lamb is being raised in the house in diapers. So very clean conditions. She just had a diaper full of diarhea. I gave her 3 ml. of pepto. Her temp is normal, her mouth is warm and her skin is elastic. Should I give her Penicillin just in case?


  7. You could give lamb the Penicillin just in case. Half a cc would be enough by injection. Have you given an injection before. I find the best cure for the lamb scour is giving them the electrolytes. There can be different reasons for the scour if its e coli the penicillin will help. If you can bring lamb to a vet its always the best option.