25 Jul 2023

Warning bumper flock of lamb triplets will need 'plenty of decent tucker'

2:05 pm on 25 July 2023
Sheep And Three Lambs

Photo: 123RF

With so much summer rain and pasture growth ewes are in a good condition and the result is pregnancy scans are showing a higher number of triplets than ever before for some regions.

When the ram was put into their paddocks the ewes were ovulating well and very fertile.

Rosie Longuett-Higgins from King Country Vets has been scanning ewes in the PioPio and Te Kuiti areas.

She said scanning was coming in at 200 percent - that translated to about 20 percent of some flocks showing up triplets.

She said that was a high percentage and definitely more than usual.

"They can present a challenge for farmers and the ewes; also the lambs as they are smaller when they come out and need to be managed as they are more prone to the elements and keeping them alive is the issue."

New lambs

Lamb triplets are smaller so keeping them alive can be a challenge for farmers, a vet says. Photo: Michael Godfrey

Longuett-Higgins said even if a couple or just one of the trio of lambs survived their body weight would be lower compared to those from a ewe that had one lamb or twins.

She advised farmers to look after the ewes carrying triplets as soon as a scan confirmed it.

"Definitely this is the year to prioritise ewes with triplets. And twins need a bit of extra care as well. Put them all in a nice big paddock with about 10 ewes per hectare with plenty of decent tucker. That's grass about the length of four centimetres up your gumboot."

Longuett-Higgins said it was vital to ensure they had plenty of food.

"It's about focusing on giving the ewe and triplets the best chance you can."

She said triplets could be very profitable as long as farmers prevented potential issues by looking after the ewes as soon as the scanning results came back and planning ahead for when they would drop three lambs.

Further north in cyclone hit Hawke's Bay and Tai Rāwhiti sheep farmers were also recording higher than expected ewe scanning results.

In a normal season East Coast results sit at 160 percent, making for a final lambing pecentage of 131 percent.

This year ewe scanning has been well up at between 170 and 180 percent.

Hawke's Bay Federated Farmers Meat and Wool vice chair Athea Yule said farmers were thrilled to have scanned well but it was a double edged sword as lambing which was normally an enjoyable time, would be stressful.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs