Feeding Yogurt to Orphan Lambs

Feeding Yogurt to Orphan Lambs

When rearing orphan lambs on artificial milk it is common that they have gastric upsets.  Usually the older fat fast feeders are affected when they get larger volumes of milk.  Symptoms include bloating during and after feeding, loss of appetite, and sometimes “start – stop” feeding.  In the worst cases lambs are found dead in the pen.

The problem is usually caused by rapid milk fermentation in the stomach by the wrong sort of bacteria.  Early vaccinations with 5-in-1 or Lamb vaccine can help reduce the incidence but by far the most effective method is to feed yogurt.  Not only is the milk prefermented and therefore more easily digested by the lamb but it also provides a good dose of the right bacteria.  The lambs (and calves also) do better on yogurt than on plain formula.

The easiest method is to mix the daily feed allowance the previous night then add a couple of tablespoons of yogurt to this.  Kept on the bench overnight, the yogurt culture does the fermenting and the milk is ready to be fed the next day.  A small portion can be kept back to add to the next nights’ preparation to start it off, and so on.  Any yogurt will do – Easiyo, or Yoplait etc, flavour is not an issue, but avoid the ones with chunks!

The yogurt can become a bit thick, and will separate so will need a good stir before feeding.  If it becomes too thick, then another trick is to add half a feed of hot fresh mixed milk to half a yogurt portion as this will warm it and thin it down a bit.

This will only work with casein based powders or whole milk, not whey based formulas (eg SprayFo) as the yogurt is made from the casein component.

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