Skip to content

The Lactation Learning Curve

5 April 2017

In the first 4 weeks the ewe lets the lamb suck anytime, then she only allows the lamb to suck on her signal which is heads up.  Lambs coming in off signal are not allowed to suck.

This is also used as a warning signal to other ewes of danger.  If something scary (a fox or dog) is about the ewe uses heads up to bring lambs close, away from danger.  There are breed differences in the strength of this behaviour – hill breeds are better.

Having mother near can alleviate pain in lambs eg docking.  Ewes act as stress buffers – their beneficial effects are not just due to provision of milk.  How relevant this information is in relation to when to start a rotational grazing system needs a bit of thought.

John Vipond, Sheep Specialist

Sign up to the FAS newsletter

Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service