Mixed lamb drop predicted for NC

The earlier high lambing survival rates assisted a strong run of economic growth in Otago. Photo...
Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
North Canterbury farmers can a expect a mixed lamb drop after a challenging season, local sheep scanner Daniel Wheeler says.

The Amberley-based contractor pregnancy scans ewes in the North Canterbury and Ellesmere areas and estimated scanning percentages were about 10% down across the region.

Drought conditions in the North Island and the top of South Island, including part of North Canterbury, meant lamb numbers could be down significantly nationwide, Mr Wheeler said.

"We’re just starting to wind down. The percentages are pretty mixed and the drought has had a really big impact on some farmers.

"I’ve scanned guys down from 170 to 140%, but others are up about 10%. It will be interesting to see what happens, but the spring will level things out."

But the silver lining was the lamb price was still strong, for now.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury meat and wool chairman Daniel Maxwell said indications were the early lambers, who mated their ewes in February and March, were scanning lower, but those who mated ewes in May were faring better.

"Things were looking pretty dire for a while there. We had a good rain in March, but we didn’t get a follow-up rain until May.

"But since then we’ve had a fairly mild winter, so we’ve had some winter growth which has made difference."

Another good rainfall over the next two weeks would set farmers up nicely for spring, Mr Maxwell said.

"All in all, winter has gone well, but it would be premature to say that we are in spring. Winter snow can come in September."

Meat prices were holding up for now, but the global uncertainty with Covid-19 meant the situation could change quickly.

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