A Tauranga farmer was shocked when one of his ewes gave birth to quadruplets - a rare occurrence on farms.

The uncommon birth occurred earlier this week and the farmer, who did not want to be named, said he had never seen a ewe, especially a hogget, give birth to quadruplet lambs.

"I've been farming for several years and have never seen this."

A hogget is a young sheep, usually aged between one and two years old.


"We knew some people who wanted some pet lambs so we gave two of them away. It would be a bit tough for her to rear four lambs."

Bay of Plenty provincial president Rick Powdrell said it was very rare for a sheep to have quadruplets. "It is just unusual for it to happen naturally.

"In recent years some people have been known to use a chemical which can increase the chances of a sheep having more lambs," he said.

"Sheep will usually just have one or two lambs and some can have three but four is just very rare." Mr Powdrell said rearing four lambs would be quite hard on the ewe.

He said sheep in smaller flocks were more likely to have three or four lambs because of the conditions they lived in, compared to a larger flock which can fight for food and nutrients.