Lambs choking on feed

In which users discuss matters pertaining to the management of the health, welfare, and productivity of their flocks. Nutrition, pasture management, health care protocols, feeding systems, and such are all on topic.
denice
Old Hand
Posts: 1167
Joined: Sat Oct 02, 2010 6:51 am
Location: SE Indiana
Contact:

Lambs choking on feed

Postby denice » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:34 am

I weaned the lambs earlier than usual this year. Just seemed the ewes were getting thin and the lambs were not growing. Been hot and humid with weekly rains. Have plenty clover in the pasture just were not looking as good as normal.

The lambs are on a nice rested pasture and getting grain daily. In the recent past I have simply top dressed whole corn with sheep pellets to make a 16% ration. This year I invested in a bulk bin in hopes of feeding better. I had asked for corn and protein pellets with a bit of added calcium ( my soils are low) to 18% since lambs are smaller. They brought a ration with corn, protein pellets, soyhull pellets, alfalfa pellets, dry molasses. They have more than enough bunk space, approx 1/2 bunk has no lambs so they can spread out and eat. Every day lambs are choking then walk away and do not eat more. Lost one lamb even though I put my fingers in her mouth and held her upside down a few seconds. She seemed better walked off, but dead 10 min later.

Is one of the ingredients causing them to choke? Was not pleased the feed was not what I asked for, it was more expensive also since they added alfalfa pellets. The excuse was he just took the ration out of the ADM book. There are few sheep here but come on...

Sugar Creek
Old Hand
Posts: 440
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:07 am
Location: Central Kentucky

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby Sugar Creek » Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:45 am

Denise,
I got in the sheep business well over 15 years ago with no previous experience or source of nearby advice. Started reading this forum and planned to expand numbers and rely on pastures as much as possible with weaning at around 5 months. My climate is very near to yours in SE Indiana.

With each passing year it seemed to get harder to follow my plan as the (worm load ?) increased in my pastures. This year I weaned at 60 days and had the lambs mostly sold by 90 days at around 85 lbs. I fed out the lambs in a large barn on good hay and a 15% ration called "ewe grower" I get from a local feed store.

For 15 years i have experienced what you have described in my weaned lambs, choking on the feed and walking away slobbering and done eating for that session. It was worse when i use to feed an all-stock 14% ration mixed locally that had a lot of ddgs. It was a denser and heavier type finely ground feed. I do not notice it as much in the "ewe grower" i feed now that has cottonseed and is a fluffier and less dense ration. I still see it occasionally.

I mostly just tolerate this for my troubles with the lambs on pasture are much more severe than this. Sorry that I do not have an answer beyond the fact that hungry lambs eating a dense and finely ground grain ration are prone to this.
Fred

Mike Wallace
Old Hand
Posts: 470
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:13 am
Location: Nebraska, USA
Contact:

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby Mike Wallace » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:13 am

Always treated choke by straddling the animal, and simultaneously repeatedly pounding on both sides of the rib cage for several pounds. Probably caused by the size-shape of one of the pellets, or the whole corn. Might try reducing the feed trough space to keep individuals from being able to suck up too much feed in too short of time. Less trough space will create competition, thus slowing down the ability of individuals to hog it down.

greengrazer
Old Hand
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2016 8:00 am

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby greengrazer » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:44 am

Fred, i almost went with a ewe grower that is the only sheep specific feed offered in my area. Are you also in KY? I have been buying 3 way which is the most popular/cheap supplemental feed here. Have a load coming today like $522 for 3 ton delivered. I have had lambs but mostly ewes get choked and i believe its the soy hull pellets that cause it. Never had one die, they just get up on back legs foaming at the mouth and eventually clear out. The ones that do that seem to learn to slow down. The ewe grower is no doubt a better option but its quite a bit more expensive than the 3 way. Im raising lambs both in pasture. And with about 60 left in the drylot. I do believe i will be going all drylot from now on as i have access to plenty of hay and already own hay equipment. My lambs on pasture in this heat are stalled out; and even with my limited sheep experience it seems like when you see that stall you better get something else going on quick! Denice my buddy bought a ton of feed from the same place he had been using and same tyoe of feed this week. Used it at 2 different places 2 different flocks. None of them would touch it. Lambs and ewes. Some picked around at it. These sheep usually knock a bucket out of your hand for it. In 2 day had 5 dead lambs 60-80 lbs. 2 are being necropsied and sample of feed examined. Who knows they may have choked too but its all very odd. Last load of bulk i got from one place was full of dead rodents. I dont think it caused me any issues but i switched and recently they assured me that was a one time deal.... So i switched back after my budies possible scare at the other place we were using. Feels like a cross your fingers game. Off topic but Funny last night local sale had over 600 sheep/goats. I had to laugh when i looked at the parking lot all the folks putting in all this hard work and are driving mostly old pick ups with cages and old trailers and the guys buying them are all driving really expensive trucks and 40 ft alluminum trailers. I told my buddy "wow we are dummies! We need to figure out how to drive those!" and we had a good laugh. Last week had one of my best reg ewes stuck her head between 2 small downed trees and hung herself. Im fairly convinced they hate me and its ALWAYS the best ones that you have issues with. Most of the lambs my buddy lost were his best. Sorry to hear denice hope they assimilate to the feed with no further issues. As if its any consolation things could be better down here as well.

Sugar Creek
Old Hand
Posts: 440
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:07 am
Location: Central Kentucky

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby Sugar Creek » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:34 pm

Greengrazer,
Yes, I am in Kentucky and I think it likely we are talking about the same "ewe grower" feed. I have tried several feeds over the years and find it the best feed for the price. It used to be a little pricey here but my local store managed to get the company to come down in price to where it is comparable to cattle feeds of this type. It goes up and down with commodity prices but is reasonable.
The feed that more often caused this slobbering and standing on hind legs did have more soybean hulls so that may be part of the problem.

This 95 degree heat index weather has me inside more today, not fit for sheep or sheep farmer.
Fred

Linda Poole
Old Hand
Posts: 287
Joined: Wed May 14, 2014 6:59 pm
Location: Montana's northern prairie

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby Linda Poole » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:59 am

Sorry to hear of this problem, Denice. One thing after another with sheep. . . .

Greengrazer, that is awful about the load of killer feed. Sounds maybe like contamination of some kind, like all the baby and dog food recalls over the years.

Haven't seen much of it here but the few cases of choke I've seen were when hungry lambs were racing and crowding in hard to get pellets. I feed 1/4 inch diameter pellets, often mixed with whole corn. The ways I've alleviated the problem is to change the feeder. With a typical wide feed bunk, I've scattered plenty of 4-6 inch rocks so the lambs have to nose around to gather a mouthful. This works well but it's inconvenient to clean the feedbunks this way. So I took some 6 inch round, 8 foot long, heavy PVC pipe and split it lengthwise. Put the two halves side by side and riveted them together on short lengths of scrap strap iron. Put angle iron on the ends to sturdy everything up. They work great -- easy to build, move, and clean, and the sheep can't grab great gobs of grain at once.

Neighbor uses 1 inch cubes of alfalfa, corn, wheat, and barley, mostly to feed ewes during lambing. Wow it was scary watching them gorge, choke, then learn how to eat these cubes. Didn't lose any to choke, but lots of the ewes looked like candidates for the Heimlich maneuver there at first. Once the sheep figured out how to safely eat them the cubes seemed to work well.

DonDrewry
Old Hand
Posts: 1262
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 4:03 am
Location: Farmington, MN
Contact:

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby DonDrewry » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:07 pm

I've seen ewes moderately choke on straight oats when I've fed that. Of your ration I've fed lots of whole shelled corn and protein pellets and almost never see a problem with choking. We feed a lot of soyhulls but ours aren't pelleted nor have I ever fed alfalfa pellets. If load of feed came to my place that much different than I had ordered I probably would have not let them unload it if I'd been around. But, I design more own rations so I don't want some feed mill guy looking up in his dated book what he thinks I should feed my sheep. 'These items I haven't used are used I a lot of sheep rations so unless there is something unusual about them they all should be fine.

I'd consider a couple of other choices. 1) Consider putting them on a self feeder. With feed in front of them 24/7 they don't gorge themselves and the choke problem will probably just go away. 2) Call of the feed mill and tell them, I tried you ration even though it was not what I asked for and was more expensive. My sheep are choking on it. Come get and give me my money back for the amount I've not used. I've already lost 1 lamb.
Don Drewry

greengrazer
Old Hand
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2016 8:00 am

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby greengrazer » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:47 pm

Not to highjack thread the results came back on those lambs. Feed checked out. Worms and grass bloat is what they came up with.

Tara Voda
Old Hand
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:29 am
Location: Summerfield, SE Ohio

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby Tara Voda » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:25 pm

Denice,
I have problems with sheep choking on molasses clumps. I have a 50ml syringe on hand to fill with water and drench/wash the stuff down. When they're hungry, they tend to inhale their feed.
Tara Voda
Summerfield, OH

high plainsman
Old Hand
Posts: 153
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:52 am

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby high plainsman » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:44 pm

Last fall I had a ewe lamb that would choke on the grain mix I was feeding. She was the only one that did and I had never seen any do that before. So I thought it was just a one off thing. This evening when I fed the feeder lambs their grain, I had two that exhibited the same behavior of rearing on their hind legs and then foaming at the mouth. I have been gradually bringing them up on the amount of grain they were being fed and have them up to about 3/4 pound a feeding. There is enough bunk space for all of them to eat at once, but they don't have excess space either. They have good quality hay in front of them at all times, but sheep being sheep, they still scarf the grain down as fast as they can.

They grain ration is one that I have always fed. The feed mill sometimes get more or less molasses in a batch, but I haven't noticed that it made any difference. I tend to agree with Don, that whole corn wouldn't be as apt to cause choking as rolled or ground. For some reason my feed mill has problems with running whole corn through their mixer and augers, so I have had to stay with the ground grain. I do have a mixer, so I might have to go back to doing my own mixing so I can feed the whole corn.

Hopefully once I get them on full feed and let them use a self feeder, I don't have the problem any more.

I find it interesting the behavior of all the sheep people have described as rearing on their hind legs is the same. It must offer some form of relief for them. Perhaps when they gorge on ground feed, it goes into the wrong stomach first.

djarboe
Newcomer
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:12 am
Location: Kentucky

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby djarboe » Fri Jul 21, 2017 6:31 pm

Though it is a small sample size, my father in law has lost sheep choking on soy hulls, and just last Saturday another producer told me they will feed a little soy hulls sometimes, but have to be careful because they will choke on it.

denice
Old Hand
Posts: 1167
Joined: Sat Oct 02, 2010 6:51 am
Location: SE Indiana
Contact:

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby denice » Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:29 am

Thanks everyone for the replies. The lambs seem to be figuring it out. The next batch of feed I get will be minus the hulls and alfalfa pellets for sure.
Denice

sdbailly
Old Hand
Posts: 75
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:02 am
Location: South Louisiana
Contact:

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby sdbailly » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:33 am

djarboe wrote:Though it is a small sample size, my father in law has lost sheep choking on soy hulls, and just last Saturday another producer told me they will feed a little soy hulls sometimes, but have to be careful because they will choke on it.


Are you talking about pelletized soyhulls? Just curious as we were looking into supplementing with soyhull pellets this winter.
Sarah Bailly
South Louisiana
Pasture-Based

djarboe
Newcomer
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:12 am
Location: Kentucky

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby djarboe » Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:09 pm

I asked and this was the response: "They can choke on [pellitized soy hulls] sometimes, but not always. Usually it is because they get in a big hurry to keep other sheep from getting any and they get choked."

DonDrewry
Old Hand
Posts: 1262
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 4:03 am
Location: Farmington, MN
Contact:

Re: Lambs choking on feed

Postby DonDrewry » Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:27 am

djarboe wrote:I asked and this was the response: "They can choke on [pellitized soy hulls] sometimes, but not always. Usually it is because they get in a big hurry to keep other sheep from getting any and they get choked."


Probably 20-40% of 90% of thes feed load we have gotten in the last 7 years has been UNPELLETTED soyhulls. Never had any sheep choke on them.
Don Drewry


Return to “General management”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest