Mild winter a boon for early lambers
Lambing is well underway for many Waikato sheep farmers with most of the region's early lambing ewes in good condition following last summer's drought and mild winter weather.
Many sheep farmers in northern and central Waikato already have lambs on the ground while those further south in King Country are set to begin in the next few weeks.
It was "so far so good" for Cambridge ram breeder Edward Dinger who is about halfway through lambing on his stud near Cambridge.
His older ewes had recovered well from the drought and had produced good healthy lambs.
He had noticed his two-tooth ewe flock had produced smaller than normal lambs, which he believed was a hangover from the drought.
"They are skinnier I think than normal and the lambs are a bit smaller than normal."
However, they were coping and mortality rates among his lambs were low so far.
His two-tooth ewes were sheep that had lived through two summer droughts in their lifetimes.
The 2012-13 drought had stunted their growth as hoggets and they were in lesser condition when they were mated earlier this year due to last season's drought.
"The lambs they are delivering are a bit smaller than usual and the condition of the ewes themselves is definitely less less than normal and definitely less than the older ewes.
"But the older ewes have recovered completely and I have some perfect lambs."
Dinger said other farmers he had spoken to have had a similar season.
Waingaro sheep and beef farmer Rory Sherlock had some early lambs on the ground and was expecting his main drop to start this week and another mob of ewes to lamb in a fortnight.
His ewes had come through the winter well and there was plenty of pasture on the ground.
"There have been no major issues, our feed supply is OK. We're reasonably well set up at the moment. We'll see how things go now.
"It depends what the weather does from now on."
Martin Coup starts lambing in two weeks on his farm near Aria. The warm winter meant farmers had good grass cover for August and most were reasonably happy, he said.
"People are usually short this time of year and people should be a little bit better off than they normally would be," he said. firstname.lastname@example.org