Stress at weaning is often under-estimated and results in falling growth and susceptibility to disease. However, careful planning can alleviate this halt in productivity. Often at weaning the stress imposed on lambs is tremendous. Lambs are separated from their mothers, wormed & dosed; not to mention the change from a milk based diet to creep or even stubbles. Rumen development is going on as well as lambs having to learn how to eat new foods. Research shows that animals experiencing new foods when with their mothers will perform better on it after weaning. It makes sense to have a transition period of around 3 weeks for the rumen to adapt to a new feed. Also, you shouldn’t drastically change the lamb’s diet for 2 weeks after weaning. When weaning, ewes should be removed from their lambs. By leaving lambs in the same field they will experience less stress as they will know where the water and feeders are. It’s also important to maintain the same groupings during weaning, e.g. keep siblings together as twins will stay together for the first few days.

Increasing sward height from 6 to 8cms encourages lamb growth, falling sward height particularly after heavy rain make sheep graze lower into the sward where rotting vegetation give off smells that put them off grazing. So it may pay to let lambs have the pick of the grass.

In terms of lamb health, stress will result in compromised immune systems making lambs more susceptible to disease. Routine treatments such as vaccines or wormers should be given before weaning as stress can affect the immune response particularly for vaccines making lambs more susceptible to disease. Ideally avoid grazing on fields which have had sheep on this season as these pose high risks of parasite challenge which can reduce lamb growth rates. Generally ewes are not a source of worm infection for lambs around weaning but experts warn that Moxidectin treated ewes may resume egg output when this long lasting action drug wears off. This is particularly in sheep which have been housed for more than 2 months before lambing and thus gone for months without challenge and temporarily lost their immunity.

Ask us about our lamb blend or lamb creep pellets.

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