Abandoned? Nope, This Lamb’s Thriving!

Dot at 36 hours old. Her mother is in the background.
Dot at 36 hours old. Her mother is in the background.

Last Monday, Country Life heard from a reader who was working hard to rescue an abandoned lamb.

“On Saturday morning [April 27, 2013] I found the lamb away from the mother at the bottom of our pasture leaning against the fence.  I was sure it had died overnight, but it was still alive.  The mother seemed to have abandoned it completely.” Christine Astin went on to ask advice on feeding and keeping her lamb warm. She and her husband had already lost twin lambs earlier in the spring when another of their flock had abandoned the twins.

At the time the latest lamb was abandoned, Christine was alone on the farm, and wanted to be sure she was doing the best things for the little critter.

Galen Lehman advised that the baby could go in with another nursing mom, but the Astins didn’t have another nursing mom. Country Life encouraged them to contact the county agricultural extension, and their vet, who would know the best treatment for their area and the lambs condition. (Turns out that the Astins are in Colorado!) And CL asked her to stay in touch.

Well, she has–here’s a May 1 update:

“Day 6 and the lamb is doing fine.  I guess she is past the danger stage of overeating or stomach clotting and the myriad of other things that could happen to an orphaned lamb.
I purchased some powered colostrum from our local feed store.  I’ve been putting a tablespoon into the 1 cup of the Lamb’s milk replacement.  She totally recognizes the bottle now and latches right onto it.
On Tuesday I put the lamb in the area we have the mother.  The mother kept pushing the lamb away at first, but after an hour or so the mother started to tolerate the lamb in their with her.  The mother would smell the lamb and nuzzle her occasionally, but no nursing or attempting to nurse.”

Friday, May 3, Christine sent along pictures and video of the lamb, now named Dot, for the black dot on her nose. Dot’s eating well from her bottled formula, gaining weight, and full of the dickens! She still sleeps in the house if it’s cold out in the pasture, but spends daylight hours with the other sheep. Eventually, the Astins will pasture her full-time.

Christine tells us: “She was 36 hours old in the photo of the field.  She was so thin and frail.  Her mother is in the background ignoring her.

During the winter another of our sheep had twins, in the middle of days of brutally cold weather.  They got separated from their mother during the bad weather and she didn’t accept them.  Mike brought them in and we tried for 7 hours to get them to eat.  They already had hypothermia and they wouldn’t warm up, no matter how we tried.  We didn’t have any success tube feeding them either.  They both died within a few minutes of each other.  So, when Dot was abandoned I definitely had a “not on my watch” attitude and I was determined to save her.”
It looks like Dot’s going to do well in Christine’s care.


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Dori Fritzinger
9 years ago

This part of the hard times we face as farmers. We just went through a similar condition trying to save the youngest and smallest of triplets born to our Dam Bevis – she accepted the first two but the third baby goat (we named Charlie) she pushed aside – we tried to help Charlie survive but he faced greater challenges than he could over come and we lost him. In our experience of over 30 years raising goats and sheep we have found – the females have a stronger will to live than the males.

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