The show lamb project is attractive to exhibitors and parents for many reasons. Lambs are generally easy to handle, take up a minimum amount of space, and have personalities all their own that are fun to be around. Once you get your new lamb project home, you’ll want to make sure it eats and stays healthy, so you can have a successful project. Jake Warntjes, BioZyme® Inc. Area Sales Manager and life-long sheep breeder, took some time to answer a few questions about getting lambs on feed and keeping them healthy.
What is the first thing I should do when I get my lambs home?
Make sure you are bringing your lamb home to a clean pen with fresh water. Having fresh water for them all the time is very important in your animal’s overall health and willingness to eat. Make sure they have proper shelter set up for the time of year you are buying them and bringing them home. If you are buying them in the spring or summer, fans are essential to keep them cool and prevent overheating and going off feed. If you bring them home in colder temperatures, blankets are a great way to keep them warm. I usually give lambs Vita Charge® Liquid Boost® or Vita Charge® Gel for the first 4-5 days they are in their new home to help mitigate the effects of stress and keep them eating. Both products contain Amaferm®, a precision prebiotic, designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying nutrient supply for maximum performance. It is research-proven to combat stress by supporting the animal’s own immune system, significantly increasing intake and nutrient utilization.
What kind of feed and how much feed should I give my new show lamb project?
Most lambs you purchase will have been eating a free-choice creep feed. I would recommend asking the breeder for a 3 to 5-day supply of that same product to keep them on until they are comfortable in their new home. Then, slowly acclimate them to their new diet by transitioning them to a grower ration by mixing the old and new feed together, over the course of a week. As long as you can source fresh, high quality feed on a consistent basis, what you choose to feed is based on your personal preference – initially anywhere from a 15-18% protein grower feed. Generally, you are going to feed 1 to 1.5 pounds per feeding, twice a day. They will stay on the grower ration the entire feeding period and add in supplements like fat or protein as needed. As soon as you get the lambs home, you will want to incorporate Sure Champ® Spark® into their diets. Spark is a pelleted supplement that can be top-dressed or mixed into the ration and contains Amaferm® and MOS to help drive appetite and assist in digestive health. Amaferm is a precision prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying the nutrient supply within for maximum performance, while MOS traps the bad bacteria, limiting their ability to do harm to digestive health and intake.
Most high-quality show feeds will have all the vitamins and minerals your lambs need, so no additional minerals are needed.
What about forage type and quantity?
I recommend either grass hay or alfalfa hay, and plenty of it. Give them a large handful twice a day as it will help to insure their gut is functioning properly. You can pull out a hay belly pretty fast when you are getting ready for a show, so I always tell people to feed plenty of hay just to keep them going and keep them eating.
What about keeping my lamb healthy?
Talk to the breeder or whoever you buy your sheep from to make sure the lambs have had all their vaccinations and ask when the last time they were wormed, so that you can get them on a program. Lambs should be wormed monthly, so just record when they were last wormed, the product used, and then continue that protocol. Be sure to watch your lambs when they eat to make sure they are consuming all their feed and drinking plenty of water. If you have a lamb with down ears, a runny nose or one that isn’t eating, it is always a good idea to contact your veterinarian.
A lamb that eats is one that will grow and excel. Follow Jake’s advice and check out www.surechamp.com for other articles about your lamb project so you can #preptowin.