Sheep not feeding after lambing

Ewe Not Eating After Lambing? | Here’s What You Need To Do

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Lambing may be a challenging experience for you and the sheep, especially for your ewes, as they bring life to your farm. Understanding diverse behavioral indications, such as a ewe not eating after lambing, is essential in helping you make management decisions.

Your ewe may not eat after lambing for reasons such as being penned,  fever, postpartum weakness, pregnancy toxemia, and hypocalcemia. These factors can make your animal inactive and lose its appetite.

Other reasons include an internal tear in the uterus, a previous botched delivery, and anemia. To counter this menace, administer antibiotics or seek help from a certified vet.

This post deep dives into why ewes seem to lose appetite after lambing and how to deal with the situation. Read on to find out more.

Sheep not feeding after lambing

Ewe Not Eating After Lambing: Reasons and Solutions

The issue of ewes not eating after lambing is common, and if you ask around, you’ll realize many sheep farmers have faced it.

Here are some reasons your sheep are refraining from eating after giving birth.

1. Keeping them indooors

If your ewes going off feed after lambing, it could be the simply because they are penned.  The simple fix to this would be to let your sheep out and see if they will feed on grass. Your sheep may just want to be outdoors grazing on grass and watch if they will feed.

2.     Fever

If there is swelling in the body after the sheep gives birth, a fever will emerge, leading to the ewe having little appetite to feed.

The other possibility is that the postnatal fetal clothing is insufficient, causing the sheep’s uterus to become irritated and to develop a prolonged fever.


You can give houttuynia cordata and cephalosporin injections to the ewe for three straight days to address its fever produced by systemic inflammation.

Additionally, you can remove the Taibao(retained placenta), which can encourage the discharge of the fetal coat, successfully resolving the ewe’s uterine inflammation problem.

3.     Postpartum Weakness

Ewes are prone to postpartum frailty. If the sheep takes longer to finish lambing while she is in labor, she will be lethargic and have little appetite.

Furthermore, lactation also increases ewe’s frailty.


The remedy is to serve the ewe brown sugar brine bran soup, which contains 10 grams of salt, 100 grams of brown sugar, 250 grams of bran, and a pound or two pounds of water. It can enhance the ewe’s appetite and restore physical vigor.

After the ewe regains her appetite, you may give it a mix to eat. For example, stomach Taibao keeps the stomach healthy and encourages rumination. It is advantageous to the ewe’s digestive function recovery.

4.     Too Much Water After Lambing

Professionals caution against giving large amounts of water to sheep that have just given birth. Doing that diminishes their appetite and interferes with their stomach and spleen functions.

Immediately sheep give birth, there is usually a heightened demand for water, and you may allow them to drink water correctly, but not too much.


In this instance, you may give the sheep a dose of open-food Taibao. Moreover, allow it to exercise to boost the ewe’s appetite, which has an incredible effect.

READ ALSO: When Do Lambs Start Drinking Water? How Much To Give Them

5.     Pregnancy Toxemia

Pregnancy toxemia arises when blood glucose levels are abnormally low, causing dehydration, brain damage, renal failure, and possibly death. It generally happens weeks after pregnancy. 

Ewes at advanced stages of pregnancy are affected before the remainder of the flock. When expectant ewes don’t get adequate nutrients, they develop pregnancy toxemia.


Early illness detection and therapy are critical for preventing further development. For this reason, you can conduct several tests on live sheep to determine pregnancy toxemia.

Consult a veterinarian to determine the most effective therapy for your ewe. Nonetheless, a glucose drench administered every 6-12 hours causes a dramatic rise in the ewe’s blood sugar levels.

If the affected sheep has an appetite, provide her with high-quality hay and oats. If ewes do not react to therapy within 12 hours, you should humanely euthanize them.

Alternatively, veterinarians could consider inducing labor or conducting a c-section on the pregnant sheep.

How Can You Prevent Pregnancy Toxemia?

Preventing pregnancy toxemia requires a good diet and treatment. During lambing, ewes need more than 1500 kilos of food per hectare.

If that’s not possible, offer high-quality grain and hay. However, minimize abrupt changes in their nutrition or create brief bouts of famine, like when they are yarding.

Provide additional feed if harsh weather conditions cause ewes to lose appetite or grow agitated, and feed them grain gradually to avoid grain toxicity.

To alleviate pregnancy toxemia, vets suggest identifying twin ewes through pregnancy scanning and selectively feeding them.

6.     Hypocalcaemia

Hypocalcemia is a calcium deficit in the circulation that causes muscles, such as the stomach, the heart, and leg muscles, to twitch improperly.

Ewes in their first month of lactation are vulnerable since they produce calcium for lamb bone formation and milk production during this period.

The inability of the animal to mobilize calcium from the bone fast enough to fulfill demand causes hypocalcemia.

Incidents of hypocalcemia arise from grazing wheat regrowth and oxalate-rich pastures.

In the bloodstream, oxalate mixes with calcium, effectively eliminating it from the body and resulting in hypocalcemia.

Some weeds common in sheep diets throughout the summer, including mintweed, fat hen, and the other salt-tolerant succulent plants found near salt pans, have high quantities of oxalate.

READ ALSO: Do Sheep Eat Buttercups? (Read To Know Now!)

When pregnant ewes graze on these plants, the likelihood of hypocalcemia rises, as does the ewes’ tolerance to other stressors, such as loss of appetite after lambing.

A variety of intravenous calcium borogluconate preparations will raise tissue calcium levels. However, when using these medications, always read the label.

You can use the quick reaction to diagnose the disease, and if the animal does not recover completely, treat it every 4-6 hours.

How Can You Prevent Hypocalcaemia?

Preventing hypocalcemia demands a good diet and proper treatment. Therefore, provide high-quality grain and hay to lambing ewes and minimize drastic changes in their nutrition or a brief period of hunger, such as yarding.

Introducing limestone to grain diets or combining it with a calcium-rich loose lick can also help avoid hypocalcemia.

7. Listeria

Listeria is a bacterial infection that occurs in soil habitats, and since the bacteria thrive in acidic circumstances, it is frequently related to silage feeding.

Typically, outbreaks appear two- or three weeks following feeding. Bacteria frequently enter the body through emerging teeth and travel through the nerves to the brain.

You can get rid of Listeria through front-loading antibiotic injections, but keep in mind that it will take quite some time.

How Can You Prevent Listera?

Stop using the silage you used two weeks before the symptoms became apparent. Discard spoiled silage routinely, or feed them to less vulnerable livestock.

8. Infection from Assisted Delivery

Sometimes, ewes have complications while lambing, meaning you must come to their aid.

After helping them give birth, the ewes could remain inactive and even fail to get up overnight.

The ewes may not eat to your satisfaction and could even reject nuts, which are among their favorites.

Sometimes, they wander around for a couple of minutes, munching little grass, then retreating to the corner of the pasture.


Lambing ewes could require some antibiotics, and in such circumstances, it is worth a call—so get on with it immediately. Some veterinarians would provide antibiotics and anti-inflammatories immediately following a complicated aided birth.

Furthermore, tectonic or vigest mixed with antibiotics could help your ewe regain energy and appetite. However, if an infection is the root of the problem, you must administer antibiotics.

Moreover, avoid soil contamination during silage production and fix punctured bales as soon as possible.

A sheep and newborn lamb

Feeding Your Ewes After Lambing

Since rapid changes in the food might lead ewes to stop eating and impair milk production after lambing, feeding the sheep should be kept steady around lambing. Besides proper feed, lambing nutrition includes clean, fresh water.

As ewes’ dietary requirements soar after lambing, those nursing lambs are kept indoors for longer than a week and may require copious amounts of concentrates.

Ewes raising twins on high-quality (70DMD) silage will need 1.2 kg of 18% crude protein feed for four weeks. The feed amount can gradually be lowered once the ewe has attained peak lactation.

A mixture of probiotics, electrolytes (several scours drench combinations incorporate both), hand-picked fresh grass, greens, and thiamine injections can help.

Something about freshly plucked dandelion greens appeals to the ewe that is off-feed.

When the ewes have acidosis, soak them with water, baking soda, 10 ccs of procaine penicillin, and a little vegetable oil (1/2 cup). When acidosis is a likelihood, keep dry baking soda powder on hand.

Once these docile creatures know where the powder is, they appear to be excellent at treating themselves as required.

How to Manage Your Ewe After Lambing to Curb Loss of Appetite

How you nourish your ewes before lambing determines their lambing behavior. It will also determine whether you’ll have to deal with the problem of your ewe not eating after lambing.

The most important thing to remember is that if the ewes have a significant nutritional struggle throughout their third trimester of pregnancy, it will impact how they distribute their energy after delivery.

Their bodies feel confident that their surroundings will gladly give sufficient food to feed them and their lambs if they continue nourishing continuously up to lambing.

Experts strongly advise testing colostrum with your veterinarian or through Crediton Milling.

Ewes produce milk in response to demand. Therefore, if a high demand exists and the ewe does not have sufficient energy, she will mobilize more body fat to satisfy that demand.

It can be a good idea to maintain multiples within the same groups and give them the best grass, as well as augment with concentrate and silage as you would before lambing.

Due to reduced intakes, many ewes will have negative energy balances in the first several weeks after lambing.

Their voluntary feeding in postpartum is only 10% higher than in the final weeks of pregnancy, so it’s critical to focus on energy-rich foods to ensure they have enough nutrients to meet their nursing needs.


How long should you feed ewes after lambing?

At birth, ewes in good physical condition can lose a fair bit of weight without impairing their milking abilities.

However, you must feed ewes to their requirements for up to 4 weeks following lambing because this is when they are at their highest milk production.

Why is my ewe not eating ?

Your ewe isn’t eating probably because the hay is rotten or soggy. Alternatively, if the feed appears to be in good condition, smells well, and the other sheep are eating, the issue is most likely not with the feed.

Ensure the fodder is dry and mold-free if the sheep are not feeding.

Can you force feed a sheep?

Force-feeding may result in fluids dripping into their lungs, so it’s best to avoid it. It can result in infections, pneumonia, or pulmonary aspiration, all of which can result in ewe’s death.

What to feed ewes after lambing?

After lambing, gradually increase the ewe’s feed (6-7 pounds) to a diet comprising 15% crude protein and 65% total digestible nutrients.

You can meet this with 2 pounds of whole maize and 4 pounds of intermediate-quality alfalfa hay.

How much grain should i feed my lactating sheep?

A typical rule of thumb for nursing ewe concentrate feeding is one pound of grain for every lamb nursing sheep. Ewes with triplets should be fed additional feed on pasture.

Extra nourishment may also be necessary. Energy and protein are both essential components for the development of milk.

What causes loss of appetite in sheep?

Cobalt deficiency results in a lack of appetite, severe emaciation, anemia, weakness, impaired fertility, and diminished milk supply in nursing ewes. Another typical symptom is watery eyes, which results in wool matting on the cheeks.

Final Thoughts on Ewe Not Eating After Lambing

It’s evident that ewes can go off feed post lambing because of fever, weakness, postpartum weakness, having excess water after lambing, pregnancy toxemia, and hypocalcemia, among others.

We have given you practical solutions and preventive measures to curb the loss of appetite in ewes. In the case of uncertainty, contact a certified vet.


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Ewe not eating after lambing reasons

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