How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. B. Your Own Question
Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22483
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
Type Your Vet Question Here...
Dr. B. is online now

If a lamb ( 3 weeks old) and being bottle fed refuses bottle

This answer was rated:

If a lamb ( 3 weeks old) and being bottle fed refuses bottle a couple of days after the milk powder was changed what is the best solution?

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

In this situation, the easiest solution to getting Bella back to her bottle would be to give her her way on this. By switching back to the milk replacer she is familar with, we would be most likely to get her back to drinking properly. Otherwise, a slow weaning of the old to the new is usually the next best option. That way she learns to accept the new milk as despite the slow flavor change. Further to that, you could potentially try her with goat's milk (even store bought) or if you have a lactating sheep on hand then she too could be a possible source of milk for Bella.

That all said, I do just want to note that if she is 3 weeks old, then we actually can start to put food and water out for her to encourage weaning at this stage. It will take time for her to realize that food is a great alternative to milk (this is why in sheep production the feed is usually available for 2 weeks before mum/milk is withdrawn); but technically speaking we can start weaning bottle babies as early as 2 weeks of age. That said, we more often will aim for 4-6 weeks of age but this would be an option if she is getting fussy with the bottle in general.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need as this is how I am credited for assisting you today. Thank you! : )

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks but I think she is not feeling well as she refuses to take bottle tube in her mouth and tummy looks a little bloated.
Thank you Teresa,

If you are actually seeing signs of her being unwell and bloating (which was not in your initial history), then that does raise other concerns with Bella.

Can you tell me when she last passed stool? Any straining?
What did it look like?

Can you take a rectal temperature?
What color are her gums?

Does she have any belly pain?
Any flank kicking or watching?
Any teeth grinding?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
just took her in from rest of sheep now and gave her boiled water with a little sugar to free blockage
Hi again, Teresa,

Did you want to check those parameters and let me know if you are seeing those other signs? Or did you want to monitor her with your current treatment and see how you get on first?

Dr. B.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry for coming and going . We cannot take temp but don't think she has one. Her gums are normal colour and as regards ***** ***** don't know as she was out with the rest of sheep. We have put her in shed now as forecast is for heavy rain and she will be easier to monitor. It was good to see her take the bottle of boiled water though so hope for the best. T
No worries, my dear.

It is just that I do need to pop away for a short period of time to see a patient of my own and therefore wanted to help with Bella while I can. Still if she has taken the bottle, is comfortable in her belly, has good gum color, and is now under observation, I would just suggest doing that for the next few hours. Though I would note that you can also consider treating her with Milk of Magensia (magnesium hydroxide) at this point as it will soothe the gut from any upset and reduce any mild bloat. The dose for this would be 5ml for every 20 pounds of lamb twice daily and should be given via oral drench or stomach tube.

So, I would advise that for the moment with monitoring. As long as we see normal stools, no straining and her starting to settle post treatment with the fluids +/- the Milk of Magnesia, then we'd want to reintroduce her milk. But if you do see straining, she isn't producing stools or is not settling, then we can discuss bloat/constipation treatment (which we don't want to use if its not needed) if need be.

I will check back in on you when I return but do reply if there are any changes with her,
Dr. B.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for all the advice. Very helpful. We will let Bella rest now and check her in a few hours.
You are very welcome,

That sounds perfect and I will check back with you in a few hours.
Speak to you later,
Dr. B.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi again, gave Bella a half bottle of milk late last night and again this morning. She seemed a little bloated after feed. I called into chemist who suggested liquid paraffin so I gave her a teaspoon of it followed by warm boiled water with a little sugar around 11am. Around 3pm I tried to give her more water but she refused and looked bloated on both sides and with less energy. So what next?
Hello again Teresa,

Now we do use liquid paraffin, food grade mineral oil, or even vegetable oil to neutralize gas with our bloat cases. Now the dose you gave would be too small to really do much. And in this case, we'd want to use ~ 20-50 ml (we tend to use half a pint for adults) given via drench. Afterwards, we want to get her walking about to get the oil moving and neutralize the gas. You can repeat the dose if need be and do be aware this can cause her stool to be runny. Further to this, once we have reduced the bloat, you can follow up by treating with a tablespoon of baking soda (mixed in luke warm water). Afterwards, we will hopefully see her more keen to eat and we'd want to either alternate feedings or add a electrolyte solution (ie Lectaid, Resorb, Pedialyte, or even 50:50 diluted Gatorade) to get help keep her hydrated, dilute any blockages, and just get a bit more then sugar into her.

All the best,
Dr. B.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks Dr B,
Will try more paraffin shortly . Hope she gets back to herself soon. T
That sounds perfect.

All the best,
Dr. B.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi again Dr B.
Still have not rated you but promise I will give you a top rating. When we gave Bella the liquid paraffin on Monday evening it cleared her out. Saw the soft stools the next morning. Gave her small amounts of lighter milk yesterday but by evening the bloating had returned again. So it was a dose of liq paraffin again last night. We have decided to not try milk on her again. Just gave her the boiled water with sugar in morning and then magnesia in warm water at noon. Put her out to grass with another pet lamb at noon too. Beautiful day. Gave her water with a little sugar at 4 and plan to do the same. She seemed in good form with no bloating so will prob give her the same again tonight. She should be fine on grass now at 3,5 weeks. What do you think?
Hi again,

I agree that if the milk is triggering her to bloat, then it is best to push weaning at this stage. Especially if we can get her eating fiber rich hay, since that tends to be a good preventative for bloat. So, keep up the good work there and continue as you plan and hopefully if we can get her onto solids and hay we can settle this down and have no further issues.

All the best for Bella,
Dr. B.
Dr. B. and 2 other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Dr B,
Bella seems fine. She is out on grass full time. Giving her 3 bottles a day which are just about one third full of light milk. Yes decided to re introduce the milk gradually and quite light as didn't want her to be passed out by the other pet lamb she is with (Jack) growth wise . He is about a week younger.
After a couple of days on this regime she has no sign of bloating and appears in top form. Thanks again for all your help.
Thank you for the update,

That sounds great and I am glad to hear that Bella is doing well on this new milk light diet. Smile

Keep up the good work and all the best,
Dr. B.