Like many young animals, lambs grow at an exponential rate from birth. In many cases, they will get all the nutrition they need to support their growth from their mother. But in some cases, milk replacers may be required to achieve the desired growth curve.
In this article, we take a look at how lambs grow, average weights at various stages of growth and when milk replacer may be necessary.
Lamb birth weight in kg
Lamb birth weight in kg can vary according to the breed, sex of the lamb, size of the litter and the condition of their mother.
As long as their mother has enjoyed a healthy pregnancy and has received good nutrition, a lamb from a small to medium breed should weigh somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5 kg at birth.
How fast do lambs grow?
Lambs’ growth rate depends on a number of factors. It’s vital that they receive colostrum from their mother as soon as possible after birth, and certainly within the first six hours. It provides an invaluable source of energy and nutrients to give the lamb a great start in life, as well as providing antibodies from the mother and acting as a laxative to cleanse the lamb’s digestive system.
They must also be carefully monitored for the presence of worms, which can impede their growth.
If conditions are right, a lamb will gain weight rapidly in the first month of life, putting on around 7 kg during this time frame.
So, if it starts out at an average weight of 5 kg at birth, a lamb will reach 12 kg in one month.
Most lambs raised for meat are around 18 to 24 kg when they are prepared for market.
However, if they are to be used for wool or for breeding, they will go on to their next milestone of 32 kg, when they can be weaned. The lamb will normally hit this target around five months after birth.
If a lamb is female, she will be considered to be ready for breeding herself once she reaches 45 kg in weight.
The difference between lambs and ewes
A ewe is an adult female sheep, while an immature female sheep is referred to as a ewe lamb.
A female sheep will become sexually mature from four to six months after birth, so this time makes the transition from ewe lamb to ewe.
It’s recommended that young ewes mate when they have reached 45 kg in weight and are around a year in age, although they may hit this weight earlier. This is achievable provided that their care and nutrition is good and any supplements are offered as necessary.
When should you introduce a milk replacer?
There are a number of reasons why you may need to give lambs milk replacer.
If their mother has, unfortunately, died during delivery, abandoned the lamb or experienced a multiple birth and is unable to care for all her offspring, then you will need to offer a milk replacer.
It also has a place when ewes are themselves poor milkers. Perhaps they have not received all the nutrition they needed during the gestation period and are simply not capable of providing a good supply of quality milk.
Lambs whose mothers aren’t able to provide them with the milk they need will appear weaker and less lively than other healthier lambs.
Lambs can be given milk replacer at one day old. For the first 24 hours of life, they should be given colostrum, either directly from their mother or by using donated cow colostrum.
Where to go for help with milk replacer
ProviCo Rural’s milk replacer for lambs is an effective non-medicated milk replacer for lambs, providing them with all the nutrition they need in an easy-mix formula. To know more about our products that help livestock thrive, get in touch.