Farmer `pretty happy’ with lambing season

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The lambing season has been kind to Southland sheep farmers.
Beef and Lamb New Zealand has released its Lamb Crop Report for 2016.
The report said even though the ewe-to-ram ratio had declined, the number of lambs in Southland had increased 2.5% to 4.3 million.
This was largely due to better survival rates and more hoggets giving birth, the report said.
The report said 17% more lambs were born to hoggets in Southland than last year, because more hoggets had reached an acceptable weight during the mating season.
Mataura farmer Lester Dickie said he was not complaining. “I’m pretty happy with it,” Mr Dickie said. However, he said clover growth had not been as good this year.
Ferndale farmer and Ensign rural columnist Henry McFadzien was pleased with the season.
“It has been the best season in a long time,” Mr McFadzien said.
“The weather has been wonderful,” he said However, he was disappointed with the quality of feed. “We needed a bit more heat to bring clover on,” he said.
Grass grew much earlier and was more abundant than normal but farmers were wary about the quality of the feed as dense grass growth could lead to poor clover growth due to shading, the report said. On the whole, lambs were heavier than they were this time last year when feed conditions were tight. Some farmers commented that more sunshine would improve lamb thrift, the report said. There were fewer dry ewes this year as well.
The report said 12.4 million lambs were tailed in the South Island. However, the markets had not been kind. “What is disturbing is the price, and this season doesn’t look any better,” Mr McFadzien said.
Meat companies were talking down prospects based on uncertainty in world markets.