Hawke's Bay farmers have been hit financially and emotionally after significant lamb and ewe losses caused by last week's severe weather.

A spokesperson from Federated Farmers said one had lost 25 per cent of his lambs.

Another farmer reported seeing a pile of "hundreds" of dead lambs near farmland out the back of Waipukurau.

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Former Federated Farmers president and Central Hawke's Bay farmer Will Foley said the heavy rain couldn't have come at a worse time.

"It all depends on farmers' lambing dates but a lot of farmers in Central Hawke's Bay were right in the middle of their lambing, so a weather event like that is pretty disruptive and you can't really avoid losses."

Central Hawke's Bay farmer Will Foley said the loss of lambs in the region has had a emotional and financial toll on farmers. Photo / File
Central Hawke's Bay farmer Will Foley said the loss of lambs in the region has had a emotional and financial toll on farmers. Photo / File

Due to the severity and length of the storm, Foley said there wasn't a lot farmers could do, but wait for it to end.

"Farmers are still getting out there and assessing the situation in terms of their losses. They do their best to plan around dates and timing which coincide with average wet weather patterns, but these days everyone says 'well what's average?' "

The Hawke's Bay region was under a severe weather warning from Wednesday to Friday last week.

In that time, the Kaweka Range had more than 300mm of rain, Napier 93.8mm and Wairoa 200.8mm.

Foley said the best farmers could do in these conditions was to ensure their stock were well fed and hope they were healthy enough to survive severe weather.

"It can involve a whole year's planning in terms of feeding levels right throughout the year, not just a few days before a bad forecast.


"It's just making sure ewes are in the best condition they can be and have good feeding levels in front of them."

Napier Farmer Ben Crosse said he had picked up 207 dead lambs out of 1200 ewes.

"We've probably had 700-750 lambs born from 4000 ewes.

"We've only just started lambing. Anyone lambing from that three-week period I suspect would have lost 20-30 per cent or 20-30 lambs per 100 ewes."

Crosse said a neighbouring farmer lost 600 lambs from 1700 ewes.

"It's amazing that any have survived really, considering the length of the storm."

Despite the aftermath of the rain, Crosse remained fairly pragmatic.

"The weather is getting more extreme, we've had weather events like this before and we're going to get them again. If it happens, it happens, there's not much you can do about it."

Crosse said when it came to preparing for extreme weather, farmers do what they can under the circumstances.

"We can put covers on the lambs, but if they're really young and finding their feet they can often get tangled up in them. Ewes need to be spread out during lambing season, you can't just park them out under some pine trees with nothing to eat."

In terms of coping emotionally with the loss of their lambs, Crosse said farmers remained fairly stoic.

"Farmers aren't alone in this, there are many going through this. They were under a lot of pressure both physically and emotionally and will be later on because of the financial implications."