The scene is set for a perfect lambing - as long as the weather plays its part.
Lambing officially starts today on Andrew Morrison's farm at Willowbank in Eastern Southland.
Mr Morrison, who is also Federated Farmers Southland meat and fibre chairman, said ewe condition was great and pasture covers were well ahead of last year on most farms in the region.
"We're looking at a pretty good lambing as long as the weather plays its part," he said.
Mr Morrison said stock had come through the winter surprisingly well considering crop yields had been affected by the dry autumn.
While lambing was well under way on some coastal farms, the main lambing was not expected to kick off until later this week or early next week while hogget lambing would start in October.
Mr Morrison believed it had been the warmest July and August in several years and his pasture covers in late August were about 2000kg of dry matter a hectare compared with 1600kgDM/ha for the same period last year.
"The weather's been great.
"There's been no stress on the ewes and ground conditions are looking pretty good," he said.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service's annual stock number survey showed the national lamb crop was expected to be back about 2 million lambs this spring - down 7.7 per cent to 24.4 million head - largely because of the North Island drought.
Meanwhile, the export lamb slaughter for 2013-14 was expected to be 18.6 million head, down 8.5 per cent.
B+LNZ Economic Service chief economist Andrew Burtt said lambing percentages were expected to be down a whopping 20 percentage points in the regions worst hit by the drought.
Scanning percentages in Southland had been variable and were back about 5 per cent, but Mr Morrison believed farmers could easily make up the difference with better ewe condition and improved lamb survival.
"We could still end up with the same lambing percentage even if the scanning result is back a bit."
The only major downside this season had been the reported increase in salmonella brandenburg in some areas which had resulted in significant ewe deaths.
"It's been pretty frustrating for those guys and I feel for them," Mr Morrison said. email@example.com
- © Fairfax NZ News