Colostrum is vital ingredient to keep newborn lambs alive
At this stage many mid-season flocks will be approaching lambing, if the first lambs are not already on the ground. The first few weeks of the lamb's life are the most challenging as the lamb has to struggle to cope with its new environment and all the challenges that the weather and disease can bring.
The biggest killers of newborn lambs are starvation, exposure and infections. Luckily, nature has provided a unique substance that can equip the newborn lamb to withstand these threats. Its name? Colostrum.
Colostrum, or beestings, is a unique product and it performs numerous tasks once ingested by the lamb.
The first aim of colostrum is to provide sustenance to the lamb. It is high in energy and protein and therefore will prevent hunger and equip the lamb to better withstand the elements.
The second purpose of colostrum is to provide the newborn lamb with a passive immune system. Lambs are born without an immune system. But for the first 24 hours of their life they are able to absorb antibodies through the gut wall into their blood stream.
Colostrum contains vital antibodies that help the lamb to defend itself from infections until it can develop its own immune system.
The third important function that colostrum fulfils is that it acts as a laxative to clean the lambs digestive system.
Ensuring that lambs get adequate colostrum is the most important task facing the shepherd after lambing the ewe. The amount of colostrum that is consumed and the time frame within which it is consumed are very important.