Mothering-on trick for ewes and lambs heaven-scent

Southland sheep farmer Henry Bennett has a penchant for women's perfumes.

He scours garage sales looking for them and even rifles through wife Bev's collection looking for the ones that smell the strongest.

But, it's not what you might think.

Bennett uses perfume as a mothering-on tool to bond ewes to adopted lambs. He squirts the perfume up the ewe's nose and on its adopted lamb and within a couple of hours the ewe has accepted the lamb as its own.

Bennett said he had the most success with a perfume called Midnight Passion.

Bennett contacted The Southland Times after he read how Longbush farmer David Hamill had successfully used vanilla essence to mother-on ewes and lambs.

He was keen to share his tip with other farmers with lambing now getting under way on Southland farms.

Bennett started out using the more expensive shop-bought mothering-on sprays before toying with cheaper alternatives - aniseed oil and eucalyptus oil - while farming in South Otago in the 1970s.

When his family moved to Balfour, he switched to using perfumes after seeing the vast array of cheap unused perfumes on offer at garage sales.

Bennett prefers to use several different perfumes in the mothering-on pens so the ewes won't confuse the smell of their lamb for another one.

He raves about the effectiveness of perfumes.

"I can pick a ewe up at morning-tea time and I will be putting her and the new lamb out by lunch time.

"It [perfume] works so well."

Bennett has also started using men's cologne for mothering-on and has found the stronger smelling perfumes were most effective. "One lady gave us half a dozen bottles of Tweed - hell, it was good."

Bennett said he was not the only one in the family to adopt an unusual mothering-on method as his pipe-smoking father used to rub the dregs (from the pipe) on the ewes and lambs.

Bennett said he stocked up on a few more bottles of perfume recently after the $2 Shop in Wanaka had a clear-out.

The Southland Times