28 March 1997

Colostrum survival key

ADEQUATE colostrum is vital to maximise lamb survivability and hence is a key to maximising margins.

Drayton-based ADAS researcher Pat Johnson says that new-born lambs need up to 1500ml of colostrum within the first 24 hours and that 25% of this should be consumed before the lamb is three hours old.

At ADAS Drayton where 350 Mule ewes have a lambing percentage of over 200%, new-born lambs are watched until they suckle.

"Any lambs too weak to suckle are encouraged to suckle naturally before we attempt to stomach tube them," says Mr Johnson.

"It is better for these lambs to establish the bond with the ewe and learn to suckle for themselves.

Give colostrum

"However, if lambs do not suckle they should be provided with colostrum – preferably drawn from the ewe – via a stomach tube at 50ml/kg liveweight in three feeds a day until they can suckle for themselves," he says.