Sheep

The Power of Colostrum for Lambs and Kid Goats

Wellness : Health

Wellness : Nutrition

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Purina Animal Nutrition

Lambing and kidding season brings joy and excitement for all involved. Newborn kids and lambs are not only adorable, but also represent the future of your herd or flock.

Colostrum feeding is essential for newborns and can play a significant role in your animals’ long-term productivity potential. Read these tips to help you get newborn lambs and kids off to a strong start.

The power of lamb and goat colostrum

Newborn kid goat drinks colostrum from a bottle.Newborn lambs and kid goats can be exposed to unfamiliar bacteria and pathogens, putting their health and future performance at risk. Nearly 20 percent of lambs die before weaning, with 80 percent of those losses occurring during the first 10 days of life. Research on kid goat pre-weaning mortality rates showed similar trends.1
 
Colostrum, or the first milk from ewes or does, protects newborn lambs and kid goats with antibodies that fend off intestinal, respiratory and other diseases. Kids and lambs don’t receive immune support from their mothers while in utero, so feeding high-quality colostrum or colostrum replacer during the first hours of life is essential for long-term health and performance. Colostrum also contains high energy levels to help newborns stay warm and Vitamins A and E promote digestive and respiratory system development. 

Feeding baby lambs and goats colostrum 

Protection against disease hinges on high-quality colostrum fed immediately after birth. Timing is crucial because the intestinal wall begins to close only mere hours after birth, blocking the protective antibodies from entering the bloodstream.
 
Newborn lambs and kids should receive at least 10 percent of their body weight in colostrum by 18 hours of age. For example, a 10-pound animal should consume at least 1 pound (or 16 ounces) of colostrum in its first day of life. At least half of this volume should be consumed within 4 to 8 hours after birth.
 
Once in the system, the antibodies help fight off infections while the newborn lamb or kid builds a stable immune system.

Colostrum quality matters

Colostrum is a critical ingredient to newborn goat kid and lamb success. However, poor quality or quantity of colostrum produced by the ewe or doe can – and does – happen. Colostrum production is highly variable, with older ewes and does often producing higher volume compared to younger animals.2 Ewes and does with multiple offspring are often unable to produce enough colostrum for all newborns,potentially leaving some of their offspring unprotected.
 
The health of the mother also impacts the quality of the colostrum produced. Ewes infected with Ovine Progressive Pneumonia (OPP) or does infected with Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) can transmit the disease to their young through the colostrum.

Colostrum replacer

One way to ensure all newborns receive high-quality colostrum in adequate quantities is through a high-quality colostrum replacer designed for lambs and kids. Colostrum replacers can provide the same – or even better in cases such as OPP or CAE – protection to newborn lambs and kids than maternal colostrum. Colostrum replacers give lambs and kids the nutrition they need with less risk of disease transfer.
 
High-quality colostrum replacers are typically made of dried bovine colostrum and contain high levels of natural colostral fat, protein, vitamins and minerals needed by newborn goat kids and lambs. When choosing a colostrum replacer, look for one that’s high in Immunoglobulin G (IgG) to help provide essential antibodies to build the immune system. LAND O LAKES® Colostrum Replacer for Kid Goats and Lambs contains over 20% IgGs.
 
Also, look for a product that’s licensed and tested by the USDA to meet passive transfer requirements and is designed specifically for lambs and kid goats.
 
The first few hours of life can determine a kid or lamb’s future performance. Start your newborns off right with LAND O LAKES® Colostrum Replacer for Kid Goats and Lambs.
 

1 Care of newborn lambs.” Sheep 201: A beginner’s guide to raising sheep. http://www.sheep101.info/201/newborns.html. 18 February 2013.
2 “Sheep management: Colostrum and health of newborn lambs.” Iowa State University Extension. June 1995. http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM989X12.pdf 18 February 2013.
3 Lindsay, D. R., R. Nowak, I. Gede Putu, and D. M. McNeill. 1990. Behavioural interactions between the ewe and her young at parturition: A vital step for the lamb. Pages 191–205 in Reproductive Physiology of Merino Sheep. Concepts and Consequences. C. M. Oldham, G. B. Martin, and I. W. Purvis, ed. School of Agriculture (Animal Science), The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Peth.