Twin lambs come 'unnaturally' early

By Kaysha Brownlie

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Black, pictured with her twins, Mag and Pie, which came into the world early on Thursday. They may be the region's first lambs for the season. Photo / Keri Chambers
Black, pictured with her twins, Mag and Pie, which came into the world early on Thursday. They may be the region's first lambs for the season. Photo / Keri Chambers

Hawke's Bay lambing season has come early for some with what could be the region's first twins born "unnaturally" early last week.

Dave and Sandra Chambers' three-year-old ewe, Black, gave birth to Mag and Pie on Thursday.

The Chambers have 12 ewes and one ram which they run with Mr Chamber's brother and his partner on their 17 acre lifestyle block in Rissington.

Mrs Chambers said "this ewe is certainly way ahead of the rest of our small flock".

It is the second consecutive year, of three that she has become pregnant, that Black has had her lambs significantly early.

Last year the south Suffolk ewe began the season having her lambs in May.

"She's a bit of an anomaly," Mrs Chambers said.

Sparky, the ram who was raised as a pet by the Chambers' son, Ben, runs with the sheep year-round so their entire flock often have an early season, she said.

The couple generally have about 180 per cent lambing, with most ewes giving birth to two lambs instead of just one.

She said their sheep were not bred commercially and occasionally the odd rejected lamb had to be taken in and bottle-fed, subsequently becoming a pet. Last season's bottle-fed lamb was given to a friend to be their ram.

The couple have had the lifestyle block for about eight years with plans to continue lambing in the future.

Mrs Chambers said she enjoyed lambing season, "especially when they all bounce around the paddock together".

They also breed birds, including pheasants, chooks, ducks, quail and partridges and have highland cattle and pigs.

Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay provincial president Will Foley said Mag and Pie could well be the region's first lambs but it was difficult to say for sure with the number of farms.

He said it was very out of season for ewes to be giving birth already.

"The bulk of the lambs won't start to be born until around June and July."

While there were always a few lambs born early, Mr Foley said nearly two months early was "unnatural".

Looking ahead to the start of lambing season, he said many farmers in eastern parts of the region were crying out for some rain.

The weather was still quite warm for this time of year and rain was needed to help grow enough feed for pregnant ewes and see the winter through.

It was a slightly different story for cattle farmers though, with a warmer dry winter being helpful because wet weather could make cattle farms mucky.

Mr Foley said there appeared to be enough supplementary feed for cattle so there was not as much risk for them.

Lambing season typically lasts about two months with farmers planning it around feed stocks and weather.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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