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North Canterbury contractor Daniel Wheeler said scanning percentages were down by 15% to 20% across the region, and the scanning period is almost complete.
Mr Wheeler has clients all over North Canterbury, as well as some in South Canterbury and the West Coast.
The poor results seemed to be consistent across the board.
''We've got high lamb prices, but we're looking a bit short on lambs, so there are a few guys a bit disappointed.
''Unless we get an exceptional spring we will see a lower number of lambs.''
The reasons for the lower scanning percentages varied in different areas, but the most common causes seemed to be poor pasture quality during the summer, the dry autumn and a high incidence of worms before winter.
''There's plenty of guys who were drenching adult sheep, when they wouldn't normally have to do it.''
Indications were that those lambing later had slightly higher scanning results.
''I would say it varies between cautious optimism to puzzling pessimism.
''The outlook for lambs is good on the international market and we've got great management and genetic tools to use today.
''But there seems to be a cautiousness among farmers because we have been burned before when prices have been high and then plummeted back down.''
-By David Hill