Southern farmers shelter lambs from chill

IN GOOD NICK: Good grass cover on southern farms has sheep in a good enough condition to survive the cold weather.
IN GOOD NICK: Good grass cover on southern farms has sheep in a good enough condition to survive the cold weather.

Sheep farmers are making sure lambs are sheltered as snow and strong cold winds are set to batter the south today.

MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett said snow showers and very strong, cold, showery southwesterlies forecast for Fiordland, Southland and Otago for late last night would continue this morning.

Severe winds would reach speeds of 120kmh in exposed places and the wind chill would make temperatures feel as if they were below freezing, he said. Severe frosts were also possible.

Federated Farmers Southland meat and fibre chairman Andrew Morrison said farmers had enough warning to plan for the weather so they would manage.

Good grass cover on farms meant stock were in a good enough condition to survive if they were sheltered, Mr Morrison said.

Sheltering lambs away from mud and out of the wind chill was important for their survival.

Tuatapere sheep and beef farmer Joy Horrell said the western Southland farm expected at least 100 twin lambs today.

Wooden boxes were placed in paddocks so any new lambs born during the bad weather had shelter and lambs born before the bad weather hit would be shielded with PVC and polar-fleece covers.

Jeff Farm manager John Chittock said lambs were in paddocks where shelter was available on the 1932-hectare farm between Mataura and Clinton. "There's too many to put inside."

West Otago farmer Andrew Young said the bad weather was a real worry at his Bushside Farms property.

"We have had two average lambing seasons, and though with a good August we were due a change of luck, it looks like we are going to be hammered," Young said.

"All we can do is put up some shelters and get the new lambs into woollen covers and hope the worst of it goes around us."

DairyNZ consulting officer Anna Kempthorne said most calves could be put inside sheds for protection, unlike lambs.

The main concern for dairy farmers would be pastoral damage, but a fantastic August had delighted farmers with the amount of available feed, she said.

Slinkskins Tannery manager Ray Watson said the Mataura site had not been any busier than usual.

Muddy paddocks were the biggest challenge for lamb survival but Southland farms had been dry enough to absorb the isolated one-off showers so far.

Invercargill Kumagaya Friendship chairman Tom Sawyer said the annual Invercargill blossom festival scheduled for the Queens Park Japanese garden today had been postponed until next week because of the weather.

Southland harbourmaster Kevin O'Sullivan said most boaties would have heard the weather forecast and already secured their moorings.

A Stewart Island Experience spokesperson said the decision for ferries to sail today would be at the discretion of the skipper and would be decided closer to the time of departure.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said there were no problems relating to Air New Zealand's southern flights yesterday.

The Southland Times