4 Aug 2008

Bad weather causes newborn lamb deaths

9:57 pm on 4 August 2008

The recent stormy weather and torrential rain has taken a toll on newborn lambs and calves.

Companies that process animal carcasses for pelts and skins say they have collected a larger than usual number of lambs and calves.

The manager of Slink Skins, Ray Watson, says there was a 70% to 80% death rate last week for lambs born during the stormy weather.

Mr Watson says that when the ground is saturated with water, it can lead to newborn deaths. He says the last week has seen lamb deaths increase by about 20,000-30,000.

However, Mr Watson says about a million or so lambs will be born nationwide.

He says it could have been a lot worse if the bad weather had occurred during the last 10 days in August and the first 10 days in September, when more lambing takes place.

Another processing company, Wallace Corporation, has noticed a surge in calf casualties due to the recent bad weather.

The chief executive, Graham Shortland, says calving started earlier than usual in the Waikato region, which means there were more newborn calves about when the storms struck.