Ad lib warm milk feeding - best practice

Ad lib warm milk feeding - best practice

Extra lambs can be a nuisance, or an asset, it depends on how you manage them. Typical lambs on the Heatwave system use 10-12.5kg of milk powder each and 75-100kg of creep. In 2018 a typical group of 50 lambs brought in an £1700 extra profit!

Here’s how:

Lambs need shelter from draughts and have dry bedding. Offer straw or stalky hay to eat. Sweet soft hay will discourage them from eating lamb creep, and develop a ‘pot belly’. The starch in the lamb creep is essential to stimulate development of the rumen, and encourage cudding. Make sure there is a very small amount of fresh concentrate given each day, with forage and fresh water. Place teats at 12 -15 inches (30-38cm) from the ground, and fix the suckler plates with a max of 12 lambs per teat. Place a piece of weldmesh behind the teats so the lambs can’t bite the tubes.

Preparation for feeding:

  1. Use a good quality lamb milk powder.
  2. Weigh the powder and mix following manufacturer’s instructions (usually 200g/litre)
  3. Set up the Heatwave milk warmer system according to the Handbook.
  4. Aim to feed ewe’s colostrum by teated bottle or pipe during the first 6hrs of life. Alternatively use defrosted ewe’s colostrum or powdered colostrum if ewe’s colostrum is not available. 50ml per kg of live weight per feed, and 4 feeds in 24hrs.
  5. In practice, if suckling the ewe is easiest, then remove the lamb at 24hrs old. Young lambs learn quickly.
  6. Leave the lamb under a heat lamp or in a warming box, to get warm and hungry.
  7. Mix up a bottle of warm milk powder and introduce the lamb to the teated bottle. When sucking keenly, transfer the lamb to the adlib Heatwave teat bar.
  8. 6 hours later check the lamb’s belly is full, or lead him up to the teat again. Most learn during the first few hours.
  9. The bulk milk supply for Heatwave can be mixed cold and kept cold. Clean out and refresh the barrel at least once/day.
  10. Clean the teats and lines daily with suitable chemical flushed out with water using the hand pump provided.
  11. Never let the teat run dry, or lambs will chew the teats. Never mix stale milk with new milk, or it will go stale quickly.
  12. At 35 days check the weight of the lambs. They should be 2.5 times birthweight and eating 0.5 lbs(250g) of creep/day before weaning.
  13. Lambs should be weaned abruptly onto ad lib creep feed, straw and water.
  14. Keep lambs indoors on ad lib creep, straw and water until finished, for best results.