sheep

Colostrum

Colostrum, the first milk produced by the ewe, is essential to the newborn lamb. Colostrum contains high levels of antibodies that are necessary to combat infections. It is also rich in various vitamins and minerals. Lambs must be provided colostrum within the first eight hours after birth for protection with the antibodies. If colostrum is not available from the ewe, the lamb can be allowed to nurse another ewe that just lambed, or colostrum can be obtained from heavy-milking ewes, goats, or cows and frozen in ice-cube trays in preparation for the lambing season. The colostrum cubes can be thawed (not in a microwave) and used as needed. Feeding 4 to 6 ounces of colostrum per lamb every four to six hours during the first 18 hours after birth has proven satisfactory. In the event that natural colostrum cannot be obtained, a synthetic colostrum may be used. One popular formula consists of 24 ounces of cow's milk, 1 beaten egg, 1 teaspoon cod liver oil, and 1 heaping tablespoon of sugar. Feed this formula at the rate of 6 ounces per lamb, four times daily. This substitute colostrum is more valuable than no colostrum, but it does not contain the necessary antibodies.