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Managing a healthy herd may seem like an enormous task, however ruminants are very hardy animals. With proper care and husbandry, having a viable and money generating herd is attainable and can be very rewarding.

Ruminant nutrition is basic; abide by the 40:60 RULE which is feeding 40% concentrate to 60% high quality grass. Fresh water should be given ad libitum, meaning always available. Mineral blocks (salt lick blocks) also provide additional sources of micro-nutrients also known as minerals.

Regular deworming practices ensure the gut health of the herd. Deworming should start at 3 months of age and continues throughout life. Signs of high worm burdens are pale/white gums, weight loss despite a good appetite, poor/rough coats and a diarrhoea. Oral/injectable deworming is recommended every 3 months with agents such as Hunter10 or Bomectin, in appropriate quantities.

Managing the pregnant ewe/doe

It is important to know if your animal is pregnant and when that animal was bred as nutrition changes later in pregnancy. In the third trimester concentrate should be increased to sustain fetal growth. As the fetus enlarges, it presses against the digestive tract and the animal is unable to eat large quantities, thus concentrate/ration provides a high quality source of nutrition in a smaller volume. We are also preparing the doe/ewe for milk production as this is a high energy demanding period. Calcium supplements can also be added to the diet. Knowing the due date helps prepare adequately for the arrival of young. Syncing your herd pregnancies also allows for better management in the event of orphans.

Managing newborns

After giving birth, navels should be dipped twice daily in iodine until it dries up. They should be checked to make sure that their anus and genitalia are present. Mouth should be checked to ensure the upper gums are formed. The young should be observed for suckling and proper feeding, and the dams should be checked for milk. If no milk is present then the young should be bottle fed. Milk Replacer and Lamb Boost can be purchased at a feed store. Alternatively, this homemade milk replacer formula can be used:

·         500ml of mixed powdered milk

·         1 tablespoon of sugar or glucose syrup

·         1 egg

·         1 teaspoon of cod liver oil

Depending on the lambs’ body weight 4-8oz should be fed at 6-8hour intervals. As a rule of

thumb, 8oz of milk to every 10 pounds of body weight. The colostrum or milk replacer must

never be microwaved or boiled, but instead can be thawed by placing in a warm water bath. It

should be fed at room temperature. Any excess should be refrigerated. Avoid chilling and

reheating the formula multiple times by only heating the required amount.


It is important to seek Veterinary attention at the first signs of illness for your farm animals. The TTSPCA Tobago clinic is open 8 to 6 Monday to Friday and 9 to 1 on Saturday. We are also available for Emergencies and House-visits. Call us at 639-2567 or 309-0219 to speak to a TTSPCA Tobago Veterinarian.

Author: Kalidia Millette, DVM, BSc Shelter Veterinarian at TTSPCA Tobago.
Last Updated: 2019-02-07T21:10:25.975Z