Colostrum performs three very important roles in new born lambs.
- It provides an easily digestible source of energy and nutrients
- It provides maternally derived antibodies which will form the new-born lamb’s passive immune system until it has a chance to developed its own active immune system
- It acts as a laxative to clean out the digestive tract of the new-born lamb
Early intervention is necessary as the efficacy of antibody absorption from colostrum through the gut wall reduces rapidly after the lambs are born. Therefore to provide new-born lambs with the best possible chance of survival colostrum should be given within the first six hours of life and at six hourly intervals thereafter. The feeding rate is 50ml of colostrum for every kg liveweight at six hourly intervals. This means that on reaching 24hours of age a lamb should have consumed 20% of its bodyweight in colostrum (200ml / kg).