Harness the goodness of ewe milk

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An award-winning young shepherd says lambs reared on Shine Lamb Milk Replacer achieve equal growth rates and health status as ewe-reared animals.

“You can see the lambs growing in front of you, they are gaining 350g a day,” says Rich Carter, regional winner of the NSA 2014 Young Shepherd of the Year.

Rich farms with his parents, Roger and Joanne, and brother, Michael. The family started using Shine Lamb Milk Replacer two years ago because it is made with ewe milk unlike most lamb milk replacers that only use cow’s milk.

They run a flock of 850 ewes and 300 ewe lambs on 250 acre Carswall Farm, near Newent, Gloucestershire. The flock is wintered on grass, fodder beet and turnips, returning to the farm just before lambing, which gets underway on January 10th and runs until the end of April.

This system enables lamb to be supplied all the year round – fat lambs, ewe lambs and store lambs.

Scanning percentages this season ranged from 201% for early lambing ewes to 192% for the main flock. Second crop yearlings averaged 175%.

Orphan lambs receive two 125ml feeds of cow’s colostrum and is then either mothered with a single-bearing ewe or fed Shine Lamb Replacer at 24 hours. This policy applies also to every set of triplets.

Michael says lambs take to the milk replacer immediately. A litre of product is created by adding 250g of replacer to 750ml of water.

“The lambs have a good appetite for it, you don’t have to push them onto it. It’s the same consistency and concentration as ewe milk, it’s what the lamb wants and it’s as good as ewe milk. And they don’t have to compete to get at it so they thrive.”

Lambs from twin-bearing ewes are also topped up with the product if needed. “It takes some ewes a few days to hit peak milk production if for example a stressful lambing has occurred so Shine Lamb Milk Replacer is used to top up lambs,” says Rich.

The product, he says, is allowing the business to generate additional income because lambs reared on it achieve the same prices as ewe-reared lambs. “Years ago I remember Dad telling us that orphan lambs were a waste of money, we gave them away to people. But with Shine Lamb Milk Replacer we can rear lambs on a machine as good as a ewe can. The lambs are content, they are happy, they are thriving. Those lambs are always ready to be sold with others born at the same time.”

Michael says the feed conversion rate of Shine Milk Replacer is excellent. “With any milk powder you have to get your money out, it has got to pay.”

Katie Hall, of Bonanza Calf Nutrition, introduced the Carters to the product. She said Shine Lamb Milk Replacer can be fed easily through a shepherdess feeder.

The product is made with four vegetable oils and plant extracts to minimise clostridia bloat and scour in lambs. “Orphan lambs are often prone to these problems as they have not received enough colostrum at birth,” says Katie.