Up to 80% of UK sheep producers are not feeding enough colostrum to lambs in the crucial first 24 hours of life.

According to results from the annual Volac Lamlac

'Surplus lamb rearing intentions' survey, carried out at the end of 2019, only 20% of shepherds plan to feed the industry recommended 210ml per kg of newborn lamb liveweight.

“Just before Christmas, we received feedback from more than 300 UK sheep producers about their surplus lamb rearing practices. Encouragingly, more than 85% said they always make sure they administer colostrum to any surplus lambs.

"However, many should feed a greater quantity to give these valuable young animals the best start in life,” said survey co-ordinator, Samantha Sampson, of Volac.

She said at all lambs reared off the ewe must be fed good quality colostrum, or a high-quality replacement, like Volac's Volostrum, if maternal colostrum is unavailable, as soon as possible after birth.

“Ideally, colostrum needs to be administered within the first two hours of life, with at least 210ml/kg liveweight being taken on board within the first 24 hours as a minimum.

“Vital antibodies cannot get into the unborn lamb via the placenta, so must be transferred via colostrum,” Ms Sampson added. “Colostrum is the key to survival for newborn lambs. It is a highly nutritious energy source that not only provides vital antibodies to protect against disease, but also gives the lamb energy to get up onto its feet and get going.

"The first few hours are key, as this is when the gut wall is at its most permeable, allowing the large antibody molecules to be absorbed."