© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Lambs on Three!

Laura Grigg
Lambs  Kim Berquist

The beginning of spring can bring joy for most but for farmers it can be the busiest time of the year.

Farmers across the Canterbury region have seen an increase in twins and triplets in lambing this season.

Some have seen an improvement of up to 20 percent and are expecting double the number of triplets compared to other years. 

Anna Boyd, from Beef + Lamb NZ, said this increase can be for a variety of reasons.

"The primary factor was probably the warmer and wetter than average autumn season that the Canterbury region experienced"

This resulted in better grass growth, meaning ewes were in better condition and increased their fertility. 

North Canterbury farmer, Jono Schwass said that higher lambing percentage means more management and feed is needed to keep both the ewes and lambs alive. 

Triplet bearing ewes are also more likely to get sick and farmers will need more feed to keep their energy levels up. Illnesses, such as sleepy sickness, can not only result in abortions but also death of the ewe.

"You are putting in a lot more effort and can become hard to manage [when rearing multiples]," said Jono "but if you have high survival rate it can be worth it for farmers". 

Lamb Kim Berquist

Mid-Canterbury farmer, Kim Berquist, said that they have also seen an increase in multiples this spring.

"Across the whole mob we have about 182% in lamb" Kim said

With more triplets and quad-triplets in the mob, farmers have to take extensive measures to help keep as many lambs alive as possible. 

"On really wet days and snow days we take them to the woolshed to help with bonding." Said Kim. 

Sometimes they have to use wool covers over lambs and the ones that their mothers don't want will be hand reared.