Triplets occur when lambing percentages exceed 130%. When triplets are left with their dam, survival is often less than 75%. Artificial rearing of one lamb from each set of triplets offers the chance to increase survival rates. But experience to date has frequently resulted in death rates of 10% to 30% of lambs. On the author’s farm about 100 sets of triplets are born each year. In 2002 an artificial rearing system was put in place based on the Poukawa system. The smallest triplet from each set was removed for artificial rearing. In 2002 and 2003, when lambs were 3 to 5 weeks old, up to 25% died. A worldwide information search suggested that the disorder was possibly abomasal bloat. A Norwegian method of preparing "soured" milk replacer that had been demonstrated to limit abomasal bloat was adapted for New Zealand conditions. Lambs are fed cow colostrum for two days, followed by ad lib. cold "soured" whole milk replacer and ad lib. meal. In 2004 and 2005, there have been no deaths due to abomasal bloat. Total deaths from 199 lambs have been 9. Live weight gains of the lambs have been 220-250 grams per day till 8 weeks.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 66, Napier, 386-389, 2006
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