Lay of the land: sheep farming

Shawn McAvinue asks farmers at a southern ram sale, how spring treated them on their farm and how is feed supplies shaping up going into summer.

DAVE WYLLIE, Ashburton

‘‘Spring was pretty tough — we were short of feed, more than usual, and we were  still feeding out haylage to ewes and lambs in October. We are fortunate enough to have irrigation and some recent rain, so we will be right to almost New Year.’’


‘‘I lamb reasonably early — I start in the last week of August and I struck the weather pretty good. We got a skiff of snow at the end, but I was finished by then and the grass growth has been tremendous.’’


‘‘It was a bit all over the place. Lambing wasn’t too bad and then it was wet and you didn’t know what you were doing. Then it stopped doing that and you were away and then it was cold and wet again. It was hard to figure out, but it’s spring isn’t it? We rely on spring to get us through 
the season, but the one thing you can’t do is rely on spring — it’ll do whatever it’s going to do and it won’t do the same thing twice in a row. The grass growth has been going crazy lately and it’s been getting away on us — we’re having trouble controlling it.’’

DON MURRAY, Waitahuna

‘‘It’s the best spring I’ve had for a couple of years. The feed that is coming away is really good. I probably have about two years of fertiliser In haven’t used.’’


‘‘Spring has been great — we’ve got lots of feed.’’


‘‘Spring has been quite good and the grass growth has been good. Lambing percentages were back, so we didn’t have as many lambs on the 
ground because of the drought last year. We didn’t get a weaning draft because the ewes were a wee bit back in condition and it has a flow-on effect, but it is what it is and everything is rolling on — the baleage is coming off and the swedes are going in. We’ve been farming for 32 years and we had to sell store lambs for the first time last year because space was so tight — we could only get 40% of our lambs away when 
we wanted to — so this year to prepare we’ve planted summer turnips for the first time, but so far there’s been some great growth.’’


‘‘We’ve had a really cold spring — things were way behind normal, but on the whole, we are looking pretty good now. Everything 
went from zero to heaps. Earlier, lambing was really good. In the first week of October, it snowed and skittled our commercial merinos, but that happens sometimes. Hopefully, the weather settles down; lately you don’t know what is coming tomorrow — we had the fire going on 
Saturday night, it was that bloody cold, so if we can get that out of the way and warm up a bit it’ll be good.’’


‘‘Spring has been wet, but good for grass growth. We didn’t lamb until the last week of September and we got hammered by the snow — we got 10 inches plus drifts. We put our lambing back later to avoid that, but we always get caught out every two or three springs; overall, spring was pretty good.’’