Feeding baby sheep

A Comprehensive Guide to Caring For Orphaned Lambs | Animal Liberation Victoria

In Australia, sheep are raised for their meat, milk, wool and skins. In the southern Australian states, farmers practise winter lambing in order to produce the highest number of lambs.

They do so by impregnating their ewes so that they give birth between May and July. The pastures are most fertile in Autumn, while the ewes are pregnant and require richer feed, and in Spring when the lambs are weaned. This means that lambs will grow fatter and more quickly and reduces the need for supplementary feeding.

In most cases sheep and their babies are not provided sufficient shelter from the wind, rain and frost, or protection from predators, resulting in a high mortality rate. Mothers with multiple births suffer from increased stress levels, and can even prolapse, become downed, and die.

It is estimated by the industry that between 10 and 15 million lambs die within the first 48 hours of life in Australia annually. The two main causes of death are hypothermia and starvation.

Lambs weighing under 4kg at birth are much more likely to die, as they do not have the fat or energy reserves required to withstand the harsh wind, rain and frost, as well as to stand and drink from their mothers.

The longer it takes a lamb to stand, the less likely they will receive the critical colostrum they require in order to gain essential fats, energy and immunoglobulins, to fight infections. Weaker lambs (most of them twins or triplets) usually starve or freeze to death.

Less common causes of death are linked to congenital deformities, injury during birth, infection and predation.

Learn more about what happens to sheep in Australia.

Lamb rescue information

We do not suggest rescuing your own lamb and encourage you to contact us if you wish to care for a lamb. The following information is provided for use in an emergency situation.

If you ever come across an individual lamb laying down, separate from the flock, it is likely something is wrong.

Call out to lambs from the fence-line to identify whether they are alert and can get up. If they do not move, it is time to intervene. It may be helpful to have a pair of binoculars and a camera.

If there is a house on the property, speak to the owner about your concerns in a polite manner, suggesting you would be more than happy to take care of any unwanted orphaned lambs.

If the property is unattended, approach the lamb slowly and call out to them. This will ensure you do not startle a potentially unaware lamb.

Do not touch a lamb unless they are completely alone, visibly injured or very weak.

If you are not an experienced carer or rescuer, please phone ALV immediately for advice in a difficult situation. We do not want to remove any lambs from their mothers, only assist and provide care where the lamb would otherwise die and has been orphaned. In addition, the teams at Lamb Care Australia and Victorian Lamb Rescue are able to provide expert advice on the care of newborn lambs. Both groups can be contacted and respond efficiently via their Facebook pages.

After locating a hypothermic or dying lamb

The first thing you should do is get an orphaned lamb dry and warm immediately.

The best way to do this is to dry them off with a towel and to place them in front of a heater (which you can do immediately in your car). Rub the lamb with a blanket or item of clothing to stimulate heat and consciousness. It is important that a lamb is not fed before they are warmed sufficiently (this takes at least 30 minutes), as their body will not be able to digest any fluid. If you suspect the lamb has any injuries or is unresponsive, keep them warm and contact someone who can help. Please see the “further help” section below.

Once you get the lamb home, ensure they are kept warm at all times, and away from drafts. Be careful not to overheat them, normal temperature is 38.5C – 39.5C. A lamb is considered hypothermic when their body temperature drops below 37. 5C.


Colostrum, the first milk mammals produce, is extremely important for the health of their newborns. It provides them with disease-fighting antibodies, as well as essential nutrients. It is critical that lambs receive colostrum in the first 24 hours of life to give them the best chance at survival. Colostrum can still be beneficial up until the lamb reaches 48 hours old, beyond that the window of benefits closes.

There are good commercial brands of colostrum available We recommend using Wombaroo ‘Impact’, which is suitable for most mammals, including lambs. Follow directions on the package as to dilution and quantity.

If the lamb has come into your care and (1) more than 48 hours have passed since they were born and (2) they have not received colostrum, we suggest an injection of a broad spectrum antibiotic like Oxytet and a dose of injectable complex vitamins, which can be done at your local vet. Follow this up with Protexin and Nutrigel over the next few days. This may give them a head start on fighting anything that might be in their system already.


Generally, lambs do not know when to stop drinking and drink too quickly, therefore consuming more than their stomachs can handle. This can cause bloat, scours (diarrhoea) or aspiration (inhaling liquid). These conditions are extremely serious and can kill a lamb very quickly, which is why correct feeding is so important.

While every carer has their preferred formula, we recommend using ‘Profelac Shepherd’. If you don’t have access to Profelac, Divetilact can be used only as a temporary emergency solution (usually available to buy at vet clinics or pet shops), goat’s milk can also be used, which is readily available in the supermarket dairy section. We recommended transitioning to Profelac Shepherd when you can get some, as it is more suitable. Wombaroo is also a good species specific formula that we recommend.

It can be quite difficult to get a lamb to suckle from an artificial teat, especially if they are weak. From experience, the best teats to use are the Prichard or Bainbridge teats (red and yellow valve teats). They allow good airflow while feeding and they screw on to normal plastic water or soft drink bottles. To make sure your lamb isn’t drinking too quickly, have short 5 second breaks.


Generally animals need 10-20% of their body weight in food every 24hrs, in 30-50ml/per kilogram feeding ratios. You can always visit your local vet clinic to get an accurate weight of your animal. It is better to underfeed, than to over feed.

Mix up milk according to manufacturer’s quantities. For at least the first week of life, lambs should be fed milk warmed to body temperature. If you are unsure, colder milk is preferable to overheated milk.

Most sources recommend 3-4 feeds a day, however we have found smaller, more frequent feeds are better for critical newborn lambs, as this is how they feed from their mother. Newborn lambs need to be fed every 2-3 hours for the first two weeks of life (the night feeds can be stretched to 4 or 5 hours) and then every 4 hours for the next few weeks, depending on how well they are doing. Divide up the total recommended milk amount per day and aim to match your feeds to this total.

To begin feeding, first check whether the lamb has a sucking reflex by putting your (washed) finger in their mouth. Their tongue should be warm and they may begin to suck. If their mouth is cold, make sure they are still nice and warm. Feed with care if they are struggling to suck on the teat to avoid complications. Do not attempt to feed if they cannot swallow or are unresponsive. Force feeding could cause liquid to drip down into their lungs. This can cause infection, pneumonia or cause pulmonary aspiration, which can ultimately lead to the lamb dying.

If at any stage liquid does get into the windpipe, the lamb will generally cough or produce a crackling sound when breathing. Gently tap both sides of the ribs repeatedly in order to help remove any fluid from the lungs. If this happens please see the further help section below.

We also suggest adding Protexin into their milk. This may help to enhance their immune and digestive systems, especially after times of stress after antibiotics, during relocation periods or when they first come into care.

Hard food and weaning

Hard food such as grass hay can be introduced as early as two days old, while they will still be too young for this food, they will be curious and start to mouth the food. At around a week or two they should start to eat small quantities of grass hay. Foods like chaff and pellets should be introduced in small amounts only after around 3 weeks of age. Hard food is a necessity as it is very important for rumen development.

While you can technically wean a healthy lamb at 6 weeks of age, we suggest weaning at around 10-12 weeks of age.

Before you start to wean your lamb, they should be at least 3 times their birth weight (no less than 10kg), and be eating and drinking water themselves. At weaning milk should be gradually reduced over a few weeks, and then stopped altogether. A slow weaning is less stressful on the lamb.

Hygiene and sterility

Hygiene is of the utmost importance. After feeding, sterilize all equipment. You can do this by using boiling water or you can use a baby bottle sterilizer if you have access to one. If using the former method, wash thoroughly, then place bottles and teats in a clean pot of boiling water for around 10 minutes. Allow bottles to air upside-down to prevent bacteria building inside.

Check there is no residual milk left on the bottles, teats, or other mixing utensils, also make sure the lamb is cleaned of any spilt milk. Bacteria breeds very quickly in milk and can cause digestive issues.

Place any unused milk in the fridge immediately. Milk must NEVER be left out. If you do accidentally leave your milk out you must throw it out.

Make sure your lamb’s bum and genitals (as well as the rest of their body) are clean and dry. It may be necessary to give them a quick spot wash in some warm, soapy water. Ensure they are properly dried afterward and not left wet or damp.

The use of nappies is a great way to ensure your lambs stay clean (as well as your house). They usually begin in the size up from newborn nappies. Either cut holes and pull tails through, or pull the tail to the side to hang outside the nappy. This ensures their tails do not become soiled. Lambs have a tendency to kick their nappies off, to prevent this you can try cutting up a pair of old stockings and use them as little pants on your lamb to hold their nappy.

Ensure a lamb’s navel is not red or swollen and is kept dry and clean. Lambs are susceptible to infection in the navel, which quickly spreads through their bodies. If it is wet or dirty you can clean the lamb’s navel with some diluted Betadine to kill any bacteria and to aid healing.

Scour and bloat

Scours (diarrhoea) can be caused by contaminated (unhygienic) feeding equipment or be linked to other illness or disease. Try to determine the source of your lamb’s sickness. If you are caring for multiple lambs, isolate the sick lamb from the rest. They will need to have a period of at least 2-3 hours without any liquid, then they will need to be placed on electrolyte bottle feeds for at least the next two feeds.

Alternatively you can alternate electrolyte and milk feeds, making sure not to mix electrolytes and milk together in one feed, or feeds too close together (at least 1 hour apart), as it can delay nutrient absorption and make the sickness worse.

Additionally ensure that electrolytes are not to be used with colostrum, and if being used on their own use for not more than 24 hours otherwise the lambs are not getting sufficient nutrition.

Electrolytes help to fight dehydration (caused by diarrhoea) and help replace lost nutrients. Sachets of Vytrate or Lectade are available from the vet or farm stores and are essential to have on hand. Mix according to the packet instructions and feed at body temperature in the same quantities as milk.

Try to also acquire some scour treatment, such as Scourban, to prevent further dehydration.

To further ensure the health of your lambs and to prevent intestinal upsets, mix in a probiotic such as Protexin (helps maintain gut flora balance). If a lamb is lethargic or unwell, mixing in some Nutrigel will help provide energy to encourage them to suckle, as well as essential nutrients. If scouring doesn’t subside please see the ‘further help’ section below.

Scourban, Protexin and Nutrigel can be found at some feed/pet stores, online or at some vet clinics.

Bloat can be caused by improper feeding techniques such as milk that is given too quickly, in too large a quantity, or that is too hot. This causes a gas producing bacteria that bloats the stomach. Signs of bloat include a distended belly, dullness and loss of appetite. If you think your lamb has bloat, take away all food sources and do not feed milk for 2-3 hours. If they do not recover in this time do not give them any more milk. Bloat is very serious in young lambs and you must act immediately to provide them with veterinary help.

Signs of ill-health

Lambs can get sick very suddenly and if no action is taken, they can die quickly. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Bloating
  • Lethargy, loss of appetite
  • Quick/Heavy breathing Resting breath should be between 16-34 breaths/minute)
  • Groaning
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Diarrhoea/Scours
  • Straining to poop
  • Laying out on side with legs out
  • Kicking legs violently and/or restlessness when trying to settle
  • Cold mouth
  • Pale gums
  • Throwing head back
  • Gasping
  • Coughing
  • Swelling or redness of the navel
  • Temperature (normal temp should be between 38.5C – 39.5C in lambs. If their temp is below 37.7C the lamb is classified as hypothermic)

If you notice any of these signs, you should call a vet or an experienced carer immediately (If fostering through ALV, let us know as soon as possible) and seek advice. In the interim, do not continue to feed milk to your lamb.

Vaccines, worming and castration

Just like we do with our domestic household animals, we need to make sure our lambs receive a vaccine, are wormed and castrated.

We suggest “5 in 1” vaccine or getting advice from your local vet as to which vaccine is best for the area you live in. They will need one vaccine at around 6-8 weeks of age, or when the lamb is around 10kg, and a follow up booster around 4 weeks later. Castration should happen around 2 weeks after vaccination. Never have castration performed under anaesthetic as lambs can react badly, light sedation or pain relief only.

We recommend worming happen at the same time as vaccination (roughly 10kg weight), and this will need to be done annually. Commercial wormers are fine to use, we do however suggest rotating the type of wormer you use to avoid any resistance building up.

Castration for males needs to be done as soon as their testicles descend, this is as early as 6 weeks of age. Avoid letting their testicles grow too big as it means it will be a bigger surgery with more risks.

Castration should be performed with anesthetic and pain relief, by a veterinarian.

Further help

This document is intended as a guide only. It is based upon extensive hands-on experience of rescuing and raising orphaned lambs. However, it was not written by a veterinarian and should you be concerned at any stage about the health of a lamb, please seek advice from a trusted vet with specialised experience. We also suggest that you contact the teams at Lamb Care Australia and Victorian Lamb Rescue.

Sheep Truth

How to Bottle Feed a Lamb Successfully


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How to bottle feed a lamb is pertinent information. Because you just never know when the situation will arise for needing to take over the care of the bottle baby lamb. Lambs can become sick, unwanted or orphaned.  

And, I’m going to share with you what we do when one of our lambs becomes just that and needs us to care for it. Learning how to bottle feed a lamb is one of the most important skills that all successful sheep producers need to know. 

First of all, I’m going to explain why this skill of learning how to bottle feed a lamb is so important. 

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Why would you need to know how to bottle feed a lamb?

Because it’s one of the most important skills you have to know if you’re going to raise hair sheep. Learning how to bottle feed a lamb is just part of the journey of raising hair sheep. It’s not always roses and butterflies when it comes to homesteading, farming or ranching. 

You see, things happen. Again, not every lambing situation will be rosy and rainbows. You can’t always predict that every situation will turn out perfectly. 

So, be prepared and keep learning new skills, such as how to bottle feed a lamb. Knowing this skill can really save a lot of little lambs. But, what kind of situations are we looking at? Next are some situations you might face which would lead you to be searching for “how to bottle feed a lamb.”

Why A Lamb Would Need To Be Bottle Fed

There are a few situations where a lamb might need to be bottle fed by you in order for it’s survival:

  • Maybe mom just doesn’t want it. She refuses to respond to the bonding process.
  • Lamb was really cold after birth and became hypothermic. 
  • Perhaps she doesn’t have enough milk to feed baby. 
  • Or there are triplets and she can’t handle them all.
  • Worst of all…mom died during labor. It’s hard but baby can be saved. 

So, whichever the reason, you end up with a cute fluffy bottle lamb. Now, here’s what you need to be able to feed a bottle lamb. 

What Bottle to Use

There are many options, but I’m going to share with you what I use and recommend. 

So, my husband drinks a lot of soda pop in those 20 oz bottles. I keep those, wash and sanitize them to use for bottle babies. 

Then, I purchase pritchard nipples. When I was first starting out, I found these to be the most recommended nipple to use for bottle baby goats and lambs. Why? 

Because, as I have also found, they are the nipple that is most like a teat. I’ve used other nipples (the black ones) that are just too big. They may work for older babies but not for new ones. 

Therefore, I’m advising you to start with the red Pritchard Nipples. Tip: Take a razor blade and gently slice open the top of the nipple. Do not cut as the hole will be too big and baby will get too much milk! 

Different Options for Milk

Now, the dilemma of what to feed the bottle baby lamb. Decisions, Decisions. There are so many. And everyone will tell you that their way is best. And any other way will kill your lamb. Don’t listen to that. 

Here’s the truth: The truth is that there are a few different options that might work for your budget, time and peace of mind. So, here’s the break down of the three main options for what to feed bottle baby lambs. 

Powdered Milk Replacer

First of all, I will tell you that powdered milk replacer is just fine to use. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t find it in the farm stores.

BUT, with that said, you need to know what to use and what not to use when it comes to powdered milk replacer. The powdered milk replacer needs to be MILK based like this one…not SOY based. That is very important to the success of using a milk replacer. 

I’m a soybean farmer and love soy…but it’s not good on new baby lambs or goats’ tummies. So, milk based milk replacer is what you want. I’ve raised many many kids and lambs on a milk based powdered replacer with success. 

If you’re completely against the powdered milk, there are other options. May I suggest whole cow’s milk as many others will. Let’s discuss. 

Whole Cows or Goats Milk

Ok, so I have bought pasteurized whole milk from the store to feed a bottle baby lamb. And I know many other producers have as well. In fact, if you ask the question in any Facebook Group, whole cow’s milk is the most popular answer you will receive. Why?

Because it’s an easy option to feed bottle baby lambs. Not necessarily the best option. But really, all you do is buy, twist and pour into the bottle. No mixing required here. 

And you can also try to get fresh raw milk for lambs. I have some dairy farmer friends who have always fed whole cows milk to their bottle baby lambs. This milk is straight from the cow and raw. Their lambs have done well on that whole cow’s milk. 

But the one thing you want to make sure is that your not going to be giving milk infected with certain diseases, such as Johne’s Disease. Many herds have been tested and Johne’s free but you still need to keep that in mind when obtaining milk for the baby.  

So, if you have dairy farmer friends nearby or the budget to buy whole cow’s milk – Go for it! Also, goats milk works, of course. Again, do what works best for you. 

Finally, there’s a third option. 

Homemade Milk Replacer

Finally, we come to the whole milk/buttermilk/etc. option. The gourmet homemade version for only the elitist and most spoiled lambs. And I’ve used it so I can recommend it. Plus, the person who created it is just awesome! 

I’ve had this really amazing recipe for bottle babies for years. It is a no-fail. Here it is: 

  • 1/4 Cup Whipping Cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup non fat dry milk
  • 3 Cups Water

Mix in a blender. It makes 30 ounces. If you need a larger batch, double everything EXCEPT whipping cream. Instead, use 1/3 cup whipping cream. Read on for feeding instructions. 

To triple this recipe:

  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 Cups Powdered Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Whipping Cream
  • And 1/3 Cup Whipping Cream 
  • 2 Cups Water

Mix in a blender and then add to 7 cups of water. This mixture makes 3/4 of a gallon of milk replacer the lambs will be loving on. 

And here’s another homemade recipe that I have tried with success:

– 1 Gallon Whole Milk
– 1 Cup Whole Buttermilk
– 12 oz Can Evaporated Milk

Pour off 2 1/2 cups of the whole milk. Add Buttermilk and Evaporated milk to the whole milk. Mix well. Feeding Instructions are below. 

So, there you have it. The three different milk options. But before I move on to feeding instructions, I want to share a little bit of info about grafting a bottle baby.  


So, I’ll get back to bottle feeding in just a second. But, I wanted to just mention the possibility of grafting a bottle baby onto a ewe that lost her baby. It’s totally possible in just a day. 

By skinning the dead baby and tying it onto the bottle baby, the grafting process will take much less time. I’ve achieved success doing this with goats and I’ve even written about it!

Read how to graft a kid onto a doe using fresh skin and baling twine. 

This can totally be achieved with sheep as well – I just have not been given the opportunity yet to try it on the sheep side. But I know of many other producers who have successfully skinned lambs and grafted babies onto moms using the skin. 

Ok, so back to bottle feeding. Let’s talk about how much to bottle feed a lamb. 

How Much to Feed a Lamb

This is the most important part of this article. Above, I’ve discussed a few options to feed. Any of those are great options but you will not find success in any of them if you don’t feed it correctly.  

So, basically the safest bet is to go by the weight of the lamb. The rule of thumb is about 20% of their body weight. If you need a scale to purchase to weigh lambs, here are a few options: 

So, with that said, here are some feeding recommendations I use:

  • 1-2 day old lambs should receive 4 to 6 ounces 4 times per day. 
  • 3-7 day old kids: 8-10 ounces 3 times per day. 
  • 1-2 week old kids: 12-14 ounces 3 times per day. 
  • 3-6 week old kids: 16-20 ounces 2 times per day. 
  • 7-8 week old kids: 20 ounces 2 times per day. This is a full bottle. 

And at the 8-week mark, the lambs are ready to be weaned. You can gradually begin to cut back on milk as long as the lamb is eating feed and hay and drinking plenty of water. 

Finally, allow two weeks of gradual decrease in milk before fully weaned. Slow is better when it comes to weaning a bottle baby. Lambs can be really stubborn, but as long as they can become independent from milk, they will be fine. 

Stubborn Lamb

So, we’ve discussed what could happen to cause a lamb to become unwanted or orphaned. Things just happen. And what makes it worse is when that lamb will not for whatever reason take a bottle from you. 

Stubborn lambs can be difficult to start on a bottle. No matter what age, if the lamb has had mother’s milk, that’s what it will want. Because, I mean, there’s nothing better than mother’s milk, right? 

So, you need to be just as stubborn. Because baby has to eat to live. 

Therefore, be strict and firm but gentle when encouraging the baby to eat from a bottle:

  • Hand Placement: Cup the head with one hand. Be sure fingers are on the throat gently  so you can feel if the lamb is swallowing. With the other hand, hold the bottle and gently push the nipple into the lamb’s mouth. Use your fingers to hold it in. 
  • Let the lamb take breaks every so often. Then, try again. 
  • Keep trying until the lamb has drank it’s recommended amount of milk. See above recommendations. 

Also, when you’re transitioning a lamb onto a bottle, you need to have some probios on hand. Give about 2 CC every 6 hours to keep the tummy bacteria balanced. 

Finally, a bottle lamb should be cared for properly. Next is some tips for housing a bottle lamb. 

Where Should a Lamb Be Housed?

So, we’ve discussed how to bottle feed a lamb:

  • What to feed
  • How to feed
  • Why to feed
  • When to feed 

Now, I want to discuss where. What else a lamb may need to be comfortable. If it’s cold out, keep in mind that the lamb will have no one to snuggle with. You really shouldn’t put an orphan lamb into a pen with mothers and babies. Why? Because it could get butted around and hurt. Maybe even killed.

It’s best (in my opinion and experience) to keep orphan babies separated from the rest of the herd. Bottle babies should have a small and draft free place to stay warm and safe. 

Also, provide warm and clean bedding for the lambs. The place that is best for you and your lambs. I have a special place in our barn, but in extreme cold conditions it’s not the best locations. 

In extreme situations where a lambs is cold, I’ve had babies in the warmest place I know I have: My kitchen. I use a large kennel like this one with bedding to house it for a couple of weeks until I know it can regulate it’s temperature on it’s own. 

I’ve also housed lambs in a large kennel in the basement. Another warm place to just protect them from the cold weather that could kill them if they become hypothermic. So, now you can use what you have to find the best housing option for your bottle baby lamb. 

Finally, Have Fun With Your Bottle Baby Lambs!

Because they are fun! There’s nothing more bouncy and fluffy than a bottle baby lamb running to it’s bottle. 

And the hardest part isn’t how to bottle feed a lamb. The hardest part is getting it started. Or knowing how much to feed it. So, I hope that what I shared with you today will help you learn all there is to learn about how to bottle feed a lamb. 

Good luck and enjoy the journey of raising hair sheep! And all that comes with it. 

~ Much Love ~

How Often to Bottle Feed a Lamb?

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Feeding sheep and rams at different ages. How to feed sheep and rams at home

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Pet food / Useful information / What to feed sheep and rams

Feeding sheep is mostly formed from vegetable components. If it is possible to graze animals in areas with a sufficient amount of pasture, then additions are practically not required. Include in the diet of ewes, rams, young animals and adults a variety of products. If they are necessary for the proper development, health of individuals.

You can buy feed, compound feed and feed additives from us:

Compound feed for sheep

Feed and compound feed

Feed additives

Sample rations for feeding sheep of various breeds

Basic feeds for sheep

Sheep feed can be quite varied. The diet must be properly balanced. To do this, combine in certain proportions:

1. Succulent food

Serve for fattening. The basis of the diet of sheep and rams is:

  • Grass . Both succulent sprouts and coarse forbs are suitable. Animals eat weeds, thorns, even young branches of bushes or trees. Fresh greens are very nutritious until mid-summer. How to feed sheep when the grass loses most of its properties - during this period, complementary foods are introduced with shoots. Suitable corn, oats or rye. You can use seedlings of winter wheat or legumes.
  • Vegetables . Root vegetables are rich not only in vitamins, but also in fiber. Most often used beetroot, carrots. They improve bowel function and also increase resistance to infections.
  • Silo . This food is very nutritious. Corn cod is often mixed with legume hay or roughage.
  • Melons . Zucchini, pumpkin are saturated with useful trace elements.

C full-time food is suitable for all seasons. It must be of high quality

2. Roughage

How to feed sheep at home - coarse food is preferable in winter. For the preparation of the stall ration use:

  • Hay . Azny herbs during the flowering period, as well as alfalfa, clover, peas are considered the highest quality for harvesting. They are rich in nutrients and beneficial trace elements. For an adult, the norm for a day is 2-4 kg.
  • Haylage . The grass is mowed and dried until half of the initial moisture level is lost. Then it is preserved.
  • Straw . It does not apply to the main feed. If there is a need to add it to the diet, then it is worth considering the restrictions. Barley, oat or bean straw should not exceed 2.6 kg for adults, 1 kg for young.

Too much fiber content in roughage. Excessive feeding sheep threatens to disrupt the digestion of animals. At the same time, the nutritional properties of such food are much inferior to succulent feed

3. Concentrated feed

Compound feed and concentrate are among the best for feeding sheep. Mixes are made up of:

  • Wheat.
  • Barley.
  • Oat.
  • Cake.
  • Legumes.
  • Bran.
  • Corn.

Wheat bran and other additives to make your meals rich. You can not do without proteins, fats, starch. They are added to feed with the calculation:

  • 100-150 gr. for sheep.
  • 600 gr. for sheep.

Animals also need mineral supplements:

  • Salt.
  • Mel.
  • Bone meal.

The amount of vitamins and minerals per head of the herd, calculated individually. Be sure to take into account age, gender, pregnancy and other factors

Diet and feeding norms for sheep and rams

What to feed rams and sheep - the diet is combined from various components in certain proportions. Ideally, the norms are selected for each individual separately, taking into account the physical condition. If we consider general recommendations, then you should focus on:

1. Seasons

The diet of sheep differs in different seasons. This is due to the possibility of walking, as well as the availability of certain feeds, their saturation:




During the grazing season on pastures, the percentage of fresh herbs and herbs must be at least 85% of the daily ration. Also, sheep are given no more than 1 kg of hay, and about 0.2 kg. concentrates per individual. You can put salt lick in the stall.


Fresh herb does not have the same saturation of useful properties. Hay is used to fill the gap. Its amount per day per individual should not be more than 3 kg. Also, about 4 kg of various vegetables are introduced into the diet. Be sure to add mineral salt.


They stop giving roughage to flocks, but they don't do it right away. Graduality is important, because if you rush, you may have problems with digestion. To avoid indigestion, when the animals are resting, they are given hay. In addition to green mass, mixed fodder (up to 0.7 kg), salt are used as food.


No grazing in cold weather. Feeding sheep in winter consists of hay from various plants, as well as silage and vegetables. In equal parts. Approximately 4 kg per adult. Feed give up to 0.4 kg. Do not forget about minerals and salts.

Feeding flocks are often fed fodder bread which goes well with all categories of sheep diet

2. Dilution periods

The diet of females during gestation and males during mating is different:

Queen sheep

Stud sheep

Pregnant sheep should only be given high quality feed.

The standard diet of individuals includes:

  • Juicy food - 4 kg.
  • Hay - 2 kg.
  • Concentrate - 0.6 kg.

Already a few weeks before lambing, most of the roughage is replaced with succulent, and also add:

  • 0. 5 kg each of straw and grass hay.
  • 0.4 kg each of concentrates and bean hay.
  • Up to 15 gr. salt.

So that during the mating period the producer can quickly replenish the lost energy, the ration is compacted in advance. Feeding sheep producers includes:

  • Hay - 1.5 kg.
  • Concentrate with oats - 1.4 kg.
  • Vegetables - 0.5 kg.
  • Cottage cheese - 0.2 kg.
  • Salt - 15 gr.

Diet of queens in different periods of pregnancy, feeding of sheep after lambing and during lactation

3. Purpose of fattening

Sheep fattening starts a couple of weeks before slaughter. To the daily diet add:

  • Bean or clover hay - 0.7 kg.
  • Silo - 0.5 kg.
  • Vegetables - 1 kg.
  • Concentrates - 0.45 kg.

In order for individuals to quickly gain weight, complementary foods must be enriched with protein. To do this, add to the main food:

  • Peas.
  • Corn.
  • Barley.

For fattening sheep, the feeder must be constantly filled. This also applies to pregnant or lactating ewes

What should be the feeding schedule for sheep

A regular diet is just as important as a complete sheep ration as it promotes proper digestion. To improve the absorption of useful elements:

  • Feed three times a day during the stall season.
  • Feed lighter and less nutritious meals in the evening.
  • Water all individuals every day.
  • Give succulent food before watering, concentrates after.
  • Do not feed during the period when the flock spends grazing more than 12 hours a day.

Detailed analysis of the norms and rules for feeding sheep of different sex and age

It is extremely important to pay attention to the proper nutrition of animals, regardless of the purpose for which you raise them. The quality of food affects the health of each individual. Balanced feeding contributes to weight gain, the number of offspring and more. So order your sheep feed today!

Order sheep feed in any convenient way

Experts of the AgroKorm company will tell you more about how to feed sheep in winter, summer and in any conditions. Call us, we will answer any questions, we will help you choose products for the right diet!

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How to feed sheep at home: sheep diet, features

Sheep, due to the peculiarities of digestion and the physiology of digestion, effectively use the plant resources of natural pastures and fields. The basis of their diet is hay and green grass of natural and artificial hayfields. The farmer is required to carefully compose the diet in winter when stalled. It is important to provide animals with everything necessary so that they do not reduce productivity and do not get sick.

To replenish the missing nutrients and balance the diet of sheep at any time of the year, it is important to use factory compound feed concentrates, which are additives to coarse, succulent and other feeds. Scientifically based compositions have a positive effect on the productivity of animals - the increase in wool, live weight, the level of fertility and large-fruitedness, as well as the prevention of diseases and the safety of the livestock. In the company "Yuzhnaya Korona" you can purchase biologically complete, environmentally friendly products designed for various physiological and age groups of small ruminants. Read more in the article on how to properly feed sheep and the benefits of including our mixed feed concentrates in the diet.


  • What should sheep eat?
    • Juicy plant foods
      • Green grass
      • Silo
      • Vegetables, root vegetables and gourds
    • Roughage
      • Hay
      • Straw
      • Forage
      • Haylage
      • Myakina
    • Concentrated feed
    • Minerals
  • How to water the sheep?
  • How much feed should be given to sheep in warm and cold seasons?
  • Benefits of feeding sheep with compound feed from the Yuzhnaya Korona plant

What should sheep be fed?

In home breeding, herbivores are considered rather picky, therefore, for their proper development, growth, and health, it is necessary to diversify the diet as much as possible. However, in order to balance feeding, it is still necessary to add vitamins, micro- and macro elements to grass, hay, brooms, wheat, oats, barley. For example, it is possible to increase productivity not only at the expense of factory compound feed concentrates, but also premixes. Mixtures of biologically active substances are used to increase the nutritional value of the main feed used.

Let's take a closer look at what constitutes the basis of a sheep's diet and why.

Juicy vegetable food

Green grass

Grasses of cultivated and natural lands are the basis of the diet in the warm season. However, there are also some limitations here. For example, it is not recommended to graze a herd in water meadows, as well as let it run when dew falls and immediately after rain. Wet vegetation contributes to the development of digestive disorders: food swells already in the rumen, which causes the formation of gases and foam, which in turn block belching. Tympania (bloating) is a life-threatening condition. If you do not provide emergency assistance, the animal will die.

The most favorable natural lands are steppe and mountain. Especially useful for sheep are:

  • clover,
  • plantain,
  • wheatgrass,
  • nettle.

At the same time, sheep are able to digest various weeds, thorns, tree leaves.

The list of harmful and poisonous herbs includes the following:

  • wild rosemary;
  • black henbane;
  • speckled hemlock;
  • poisonous milestone;
  • pink mustard;
  • stinky dope;
  • St. John's wort;
  • Ivan da Marya;
  • May lily of the valley;
  • spurge;
  • nightshade black;
  • horsetails;
  • white hellebore.

In order to avoid poisoning, the sheep breeder must first inspect the grazing areas to make sure that there is no mass growth of herbs that provoke various diseases or death of animals.


Silage is a succulent feed that is prepared by preserving various greens. The main part of the plant mass for sheep is grasses growing in meadows and fields, as well as corn, sunflower, vetch-oat mixture. Finely chopped greens are well packed into pits or trenches, organic lactic acids accumulate to about 2% and preserve it. The amount of air entering the ensiling place is limited, which allows the plants to retain nutrients and prevent the formation of mold.

To maintain sufficient moisture (up to 70%), the mixture is dried or chopped straw, chaff are added to it and mixed thoroughly. Silage is harvested for the winter with the expectation of one head per day - from 2 to 4 kg. It is important that the food is not peroxide, because in this case the animals will simply refuse to eat it or this will provoke serious digestive disorders.

Vegetables, root crops and gourds

Sheep are fed peeled and chopped fodder and semi-sugar beets, carrots, turnips, potatoes, pumpkins, zucchini and watermelons. From 1 kg to 5 kg is enough per day for one individual. The consumption of potatoes and beets should be more limited than others, as they can cause poisoning. They are mainly mixed with concentrated feed, chopped straw or chaff. Forage carrots are the most valuable for the growth and development of animals due to the high content of carotene.

Vegetables, root crops and gourds occupy a particularly important place in pregnant and lactating ewes and increase the following indicators:

  • milk yield, which also favorably affects the rearing of young animals;
  • daily weight gain;
  • quality and volume of wool shearing.


Roughage forms the basis of the winter diet. Their absence leads to loss of appetite in animals and digestive disorders.


Harvesting for the winter is made on the basis of one head - up to 3 kg. Stems and leaves of herbaceous plants are recommended to be mowed in the steppes, upland, mountainous areas during the initial period of flowering and heading. The most favorable botanical composition includes alfalfa, clover, vetch grass, sainfoin, various types of peas, wheatgrass, couch grass, rump, timothy grass, ryegrass, foxtail, bluegrass. A high content of sedge is not recommended. Hay from feather grass harvested after flowering is also considered to be of poor quality, since the seeds get into the wool and heavily pollute it.


It has a lower nutritional value compared to hay, so it can only partially replace it when feeding sheep. It is rich in fiber, but contains a small amount of protein, sugar, phosphorus, and is devoid of vitamins. A day is enough for one head - up to 2.5 kg. Straw from legumes, oats, millet and barley is considered the most useful, for example, pea straw exceeds the nutritional value of wheat by about three times.

Straw is given to sheep in crushed form: cutting should be up to 2–3 cm long. For greater softness, it is brewed, the following method is common: about 500 g of salt is needed for 10 buckets of warm water. Cutting is watered in a wooden box and kept during the day (12-18 hours). To improve taste and palatability, steamed straw is mixed with concentrated feed or root crops. The mixture is not subject to storage, so it is prepared the day before feeding.

Straw should be especially limited in the diet of young and breeding individuals. It can replace hay in a growing livestock in the amount of no more than 35%, and in adult sheep - no more than 60% and only if it is of high quality.

Branch forage

Sheep are very fond of young shoots with leaves. Also, brooms can be harvested as early as May, but the main period is from June to July. It is believed that animals eat branches of birch, linden, acacia, and aspen best of all.

For feeding, branches with a diameter of 0.5 cm are collected, large ones are eaten worse and more difficult to digest, which means they do not provide sufficient nutritional value. It is advisable to cut them with secateurs in the morning, but after the dew has disappeared.

Branch fodder in the form of brooms is better stored in winter. In addition, it is more convenient to feed, dose and clean. The branches are tied into bundles and hung in a dark, well-ventilated area. Drying should take at least 15 days.


Forage is harvested from legumes and cereal-legume grasses in the early growing season, dried to a moisture content of not more than 55% and stored without air access. Despite the fact that it is rarely used at home, it contains many vitamins and makes it easier to endure the stall period.

The main difference between haylage and silage is anaerobic storage conditions, as a result of which the feed contains less lactic acid bacteria and more sugar. The main advantage is that the pH is not more than 4.5–5.5 units, which provides high nutritional value and improves the absorption of nutrients by sheep.


Proper use of milling waste, cheap and available to most households, plays an important role in the fattening of small ruminants. Chaff is nutritionally superior to straw because it contains slightly less fiber, but more protein.

It is advisable to give sheep waste from oat and millet cereals. For better palatability, the chaff can be steamed, chopped root crops can be added to it.

Concentrated feed

Make up about ¼ of the diet. They are in demand to increase the productivity of sheep in all areas, but due to the high cost they require economical consumption. Contain a lot of sugar, starch, fats, proteins and minerals.

The main varieties of concentrated feed for sheep:

  1. Compound feed. Conventional natural mixtures mean high-energy foods. They should always be fed only wisely, as large amounts cause obesity. The production of universal and well-balanced grain mixtures at home is almost impossible. We suggest that you purchase feed concentrate from the Yuzhnaya Korona plant as an addition to the basic diet. It contains a complex of all the necessary substances for sheep of various production groups and, due to this, enriches the local fodder base.
  2. Cereal cereal feed - corn, oats, barley, wheat, rye, triticale, millet, sorghum. Mostly fed in crushed form.
  3. Legumes - crushed or ground soybeans, beans, peas, lupins, alfalfa.
  4. Cakes and meals - from sunflower, flax and soybeans. They are mainly included in the diet in the form of a finely divided mixture: 100 - 200 g per day.
  5. Bran - per day of one individual, it is recommended to give only oatmeal at a dosage of 150 g. For meat rams, the rate is increased to 600 g.


Complete feeding of sheep is impossible without a balanced content of micro and macro elements. Minerals are part of vitamins, enzymes, hormones, determine their activity. Thus, their sufficient consumption has a positive effect on the growth, development, productivity and reproductive ability of small ruminants.

At home, it is almost impossible to carefully control the intake of necessary substances into the animal's body. The negative consequences of mineral nutrition deficiency can be traced only by some signs. We list the main symptoms and what they may indicate.


What is missing?

Perversion of appetite, hair loss, decreased productivity, anxiety when feeling maklaks, ischial tuberosities

Violations of phosphorus-calcium and vitamin metabolism with a primary lesion of the bones (osteodystrophy)

Involuntary muscle contraction


Loss of appetite, lethargy, tendency to lick wool and various objects

Prolonged sodium deficiency

Development of eczematous skin lesions


Damage to the thyroid gland in the form of goiter


Dryness, exhaustion of animals, perversion of appetite, respiratory disease, violation of the hairline and the process of hematopoiesis


Profuse, difficult-to-treat diarrhea, diffuse skeletal osteoporosis


Loss of appetite, lacrimation, weakness


Emaciation, growth retardation and reduced immunological reactivity, appetite perversion, diarrhea, poor hairline, decreased reproductive functions in adults


The consumption of table salt, flour and chalk depends on the sex, age and physiological state of the animal. For sheep, you can purchase specially made slimes and mineral briquettes. They allow you to compensate for the lack of salt in the body. To replenish other necessary substances, balanced feed complexes are used, the main advantages of which are:

  • dietary balance;
  • productivity increase;
  • improving the palatability of milk, meat, quality and appearance of wool;
  • reduction in the mortality of lambs;
  • improvement of reproductive function;
  • strengthening immunity.

How to properly water sheep?

An adult needs an average of 3 to 6 liters of clean and fresh drinking water with a temperature of 10-15 degrees Celsius. In summer and especially hot days even more. Also, the amount and type of food consumed, the physiological state of the animal affects the volume of alcohol consumed. It is not recommended to give cold water to sheep, and for pregnant women it is generally dangerous.

On a pasture, watering is best done 2-3 times a day, but not from standing water. To avoid the development of timpania, it is not necessary to give water immediately after eating young alfalfa and clover, bean mixtures. During the stall period, it is customary to give water twice a day: in the first half of the day after giving silage and in the afternoon before giving concentrated feed.

How much feed should be given to sheep in warm and cold seasons?

The introduction of new foods into the diet should always be gradual. This in any season will prevent the risk of developing digestive disorders. Let us list which feeds prevail in each period.



To the green young grass, which the animals saturate during the day, they give hay - laid out for the night in the feeders, as well as grain concentrates.

If the herd is grazing for more than 13 hours, then additional feed additives can be dispensed with.



They give hay: about 3 kg per head per day. Root crops and melons are introduced into the diet - in the complex no more than 4 kg. Additionally, they give mineral supplements, silage, compound feed.

During the cold season, sheep are fed at least three times a day. In the morning they give roughage, at lunch - juicy, in the evening - concentrates. As additives, chalk, bone meal, salt felucene, feed sulfur, iodized salt, and yeast are used. Approximate winter ration per head:

  1. Hay: for pregnant queens 0.5-0.7 kg, lactating queens 0.8-1.0 kg and replacements 0.4-0.5 kg.
  2. Silage: for pregnant queens 2.5-3.0 kg, lactating queens 3.0-4.0 kg, replacements 1.5-2.5 kg.
  3. Sugar beet - 4-5 kg/day, potatoes - 1-2 kg per head, pumpkin - 2-4 kg per head.
  4. Concentrates: for adult animals 0.3–0.5 kg/day, for young animals 0.2–0.4 kg.

Approximate fattening of young animals, on average per head per day:


Young stock

Adult sheep


meat and wool



meat and wool


Hay kg







Straw, kg




0. 5



Potatoes, beets, kg







Concentrates, kg







Set live weight, kg



23-25 ​​




Planned increase, g







Approximate diet for ewes:


Single and first half pregnancy

Second half of pregnancy

First 6-8 weeks of lactation

Meat and wool dams with a live weight of 60 kg.

Mixed grass hay, kg




Straw (barley, wheat, spring), kg




Branch feed, kg




Beets, potatoes, kg




Food waste, kg




Concentrates, kg


0. 25


Fine-wool queens with a live weight of 50 kg.

Grass steppe hay, kg




Wheat straw, spring, kg




Grain waste, kg




Beetroot, potatoes, kg




Food waste, kg



1. 5

Salt, g




Approximate norms for feeding rams-producers, per head per day:

Benefits of feeding sheep with compound feed from the Yuzhnaya Korona plant

Even high-quality hay and green grass of natural and artificial hayfields and pastures cannot fully provide livestock with nutrients. We offer you to purchase high-quality products designed specifically for small cattle and containing all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Compound feed concentrates are oriented to the main age groups of animals:

Compound feed concentrate for lambs "START"

Compound feed concentrate for young sheep "ROST"

Compound feed concentrate for lactating ewes

The main advantages of our products: