17 Jun 2015

Farmers worried about lamb numbers

8:30 am on 17 June 2015

A farmer in drought-afflicted North Canterbury is worried lamb numbers are going to be well down this coming spring because there is not enough for the sheep to eat during the breeding season.

Federated Farmers' Meat and Fibre chair Dan Hodgen said his land has not had significant rain in more than a year.

It was the same story across much of North Canterbury - although small amounts of rain have brought some relief to other parts of Canterbury as well as Otago and Marlborough.

Mr Hodgen said his ewes scanned at 157 percent last year - so 157 lambs for 100 ewes.

But he said that had fallen below 130 percent this year, and he blamed a lack of good feed around breeding time.

"The better condition they're in, the better they cycle and the more lambs they'll have, and at those times there was no real good feed. Everything was coming out of a bag or off the back of a truck or a tractor, and [the sheep] just didn't cycle well I guess.

"Talking to the scanners, they're saying the average [pregnancy rate] is probably 15-20% down, with some quite a bit higher, and some are only just down.

"The odd one may be a bit higher because of the amount of high-protein feed they've fed out, but then that is going to have an issue as well because they are going to struggle to get a lot of multiples away and growing out in the spring."

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