Plenty of grass and forage in 2019 contributed to good ewe condition at tupping time, and pleasing scanning results suggest farmers can expect more twins and triplets this season.

“There are more ewes than usual with multiples in quite a few flocks, so there’s potential for a good crop of lambs this season,” says Cargill’s sheep nutritionist in the North of England and Scotland Donald Macleod.

“Farmers should be prepared for more twins and triplets, and ready to help get these lambs off to a good start.”

Preparations starts before lambing and ewes should be fed according to scanning results, especially in the final stages of pregnancy. Those with twins and triplets need extra supplementation to ensure good quality and plentiful colostrum, warned Mr Macleod.

If ewes are short of milk, or if there’s a weaker, smaller lamb – which can often be the situation with triplets – then they may need an alternative food source.

“We recommend using a feeding system that can supply warm, high quality milk ad lib to a group of lambs. This is far easier than bottle feeding and produces more uniform lambs. We know, from our experience with farmers who use the Shepherdess lamb feeding system, that growth rates are on par with those reared on the ewe.”

Used extensively through the sheep industry, the Shepherdess lamb feeder can support up to 20 lambs and it has an in-built heated element to keep the milk at an optimum temperature 24/7.

“It’s highly reliable and consistent – and it is not labour intensive which is important during the busy lambing season. It is vital that lambs have ad-lib access to milk in the feeder and, depending on numbers being fed off the feeder, it may need topping up during the day.”

Mr Macleod stresses the importance of maximising growth rates in the first few weeks.

“Feed efficiency is very high in these early days, and, if conditions are good, the lamb will convert a high proportion of milk into growth. The addition of a creep feed, from five days of age and fed little and often, will encourage rumen development and minimise the growth check at weaning.”

Chopped straw from the first week of life is the ideal roughage source, although hay can also be used providing this is not long, unchopped, green hay which can lead to lambs having a pot-bellied appearance. Water should always be available to lambs.

Established more than a decade ago, the Shepherdess lamb feeding system includes a lamb colostrum, a lamb milk replacer and the Shepherdess feeder.

“Shepherdess colostrum is disease-free, and the Shepherdess lamb milk is very carefully formulated for optimal digestion in the young lamb. It provides an effective alternative to ewe’s milk,” adds Mr Macleod. Both feed products are formulated from sustainably sourced ingredients and are easy to mix and use.

The 2020 Shepherdess range takes on a new look with updated colours and packaging to reflect the high quality and advanced nature of the products. The feeder, colostrum and lamb milk are available from stockists listed on the web page: