Experience - big advantage in lamb rearing

Kelly Liggett at home at her Clifton farm with just a few of her lambs she is hand-rearing. Photo...
Kelly Liggett at home at her Clifton farm with just a few of her lambs she is hand-rearing. Photo: Ella Stokes
Having a pet lamb in the backyard tends to be common at this time of the year; but Kelly Liggett has more than a few at her Clifton farm; in fact this year she has over 90. Reporter Ella Stokes caught up with her and all her pets.

Kelly and Alex Liggett farm in Clifton where they have 2100 ewes, 60 beef calves and 50 yearling bulls.

The pair have been farming there for more than 15 years and Mrs Liggett said every year she got more involved.

Over the years she had always reared both calves and lambs but over the past three years has had more of a focus on the lambs.

"With scanning percentages getting higher and higher every year there are more twins and triplets which have less of a chance of survival than a single."

She determined an orphaned lamb by its separation from the mob or if it was weak and dehydrated.

Mrs Liggett said they also tended to rear the weakest one out of a set of triplets.

"When you see them you just know if they’re going to make it through the night."

"It’s easier to take them when they’re younger ... you’re thinking about your farming values and what to ethically do and now we have the option to keep them all alive."

Mrs Liggett said over the years she had learnt a lot about what was the best approach to rearing lambs.

She said she always gave her lambs colostrum (whether they’d had it or not) which she got from a neighbouring dairy farm.

Feeding a whey-based powder had meant she had a lot fewer issues with bloat.

"Whey-based powder is a wheat protein which I have found they digest much better than a whole milk powder."

She said getting them eating nuts and lucerne early on was also a big advantage as it helped with rumen development.

Mrs Liggett had worked out the cost per lamb as $40 which included everything other than labour.

When children, Sam (16), Amy (14), and James (11), were home from school Mrs Liggett said they were a big help.

"The kids wake up and they know there are lambs to be fed ...  everyone’s out there doing it and it’s great to do it together."

She said she planned to do it in the future especially with lamb prices looking positive for the season.

"I enjoy doing it, I love looking after animals."

"Once you’ve finished and they’re all weaned it’s a good feeling, knowing they’re all alive."

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