King Country sheep farmers pleased with excellent scanning results
Waikato could be in for a bumper lambing this spring after excellent ewe pregnancy scanning results recorded by many sheep farmers.
Scanning results were up by 7-15 per cent depending on the district because ewes were in good condition through mating and into the winter, with plenty of feed available.
Beef+Lamb Mid-Northern North Island farmer council chairwoman Robyn Williamson said scanning was up 7-8 per cent in her own district in the Owhiro Valley in south western Waikato and even higher in northwest Waikato.
"One of the scanners up there who talked to one of my colleagues and his records showed it was up by 10-15 per cent."
In Aria, King Country, scanning results were up by 8-10 per cent.
"It's good and you're looking at a bottom line of 80-100 lambs per thousand ewes more potentially. I think it's great because it creates a great opportunity for farmers to increase their bottom line this year."
The average scanning result for the region was about 162 per cent at pregnancy and 135 per cent for lambs on the ground. Scanning was also up in other regions of the country, she said.
The results came despite wet weather in March through to May. Williamson's own farm had 475 millimetres across the three months compared with a normal average of 255mm. Conditions had been more normal from May through to last month.
While feeding out stock in lower lying areas had been a challenge for many farmers, those on steeper hill country had good feed covers. Apart from the recent cold snap last month, it had been relatively warm which had helped pasture growth.
Farmers spoken to by Williamson in other regions around the country had also reported scanning was ahead of last year.
Waikato Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Chris Irons said he understood scanning was up 10-15 per cent across the region and farmers were now hoping for a period of settled weather as lambing got underway.
"It's looking pretty positive."
Feed levels were generally good and stock were overall in good condition. He said the lamb schedule had improved because of supply issues, but feared that a prolonged dry spell over spring and summer could see farmers dump their lambs on the market at once and push prices down
Williamson said the onus was now on farmers to make the most of this situation by ensuring ewes were fed and properly conditioned through to lambing and there was shelter available for those carrying multiple lambs, such as triplets.
"What are the things we can control? We can't control the weather and we can't control the markets. What are the things we can control given that we have the potential to increase our bottom line. Eighty to 100 lambs more per thousand ewes is reasonably significant and what can I do to tweak my system?"
While it could potentially make up for any price shortfall later this season, there was a lot that could influence lamb values between now and the time they hit the market, she said.
"Hopefully we can maximise this because I think it would be great if we could."