Guidance on weaning lambs

Advice from Volac

Lambs are born with an immature digestive system, so in early life they cannot digest anything but milk. The lamb’s digestive system must undergo considerable development in order to cope as it moves from a predominantly milk-based diet to a more complex grass-based feed.

The speed of this digestive system development is not controlled by the lamb’s age or weight, but rather by the diet it is fed, and the physical and chemical processes associated with its digestion. It is therefore essential that alongside the milk feed the lamb has access to fresh water at all times. In addition, for artificially fed lambs, a quality creep feed should be offered fresh at least once a day. We recommend our Lamb Feeder pellets.

Effective development of the digestive system, specifically the rumen, will ensure that when the lamb is weaned – and the milk portion of its diet is removed – it will be able to match its energy requirement through the intake of solid feed alone. This will prevent any setback in growth or performance.

Successful weaning criteria for lambs fed on Lamlac ewe milk replacer

For successful weaning off Lamlac, lambs should be:

  • A minimum of 2.5 times their birth weight (9-10kg), so typically c. 25kg
  • A minimum of 35 days old
  • Consuming 250g of solid feed per day for a three day period

Weaning of surplus lambs reared artificially is most successfully achieved when Lamlac is withdrawn abruptly, provided that lambs are old enough and that intake of solid feed is adequate. Lambs should have been eating solid feed for at least 10 days and be making use of the drinking water supply.

Weaning from restricted Lamlac feeding

Weaning from restricted Lamlac feeding should also be done abruptly, following the guidelines above.

Weaning from a computerised or ad lib feeding system

  • Reduce the temperature of the milk replacer and feed it cold
  • Do not dilute the milk as this will increase both intakes and urine production
  • Reduce the number of teats available to the lambs
  • Ensure plenty of fresh solid feed and water is available


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