5 Oct 2009

Heavy lamb losses expected after snow

8:24 pm on 5 October 2009

The snowfalls across the central North Island could not have come at a worse time for many farmers - those in the middle of the lambing cycle may have lost thousands of animals.

Hawke's Bay Federated Farmers president Kevin Mitchell says the unseasonal snow will have caught many farmers out, especially those in the high country.

Worst hit was the central North Island where hill-country farmers were caught by freezing temperatures in the middle of lambing.

Murray King, owner of Rock Station in the Te Pohue district off the Napier-Taupo highway, says it's the worst October snowstorm he's experienced in more than 50 years in the area.

He says the farm's cut off, there's no power and the effect on stock has been devastating.

26 degrees one day, freezing the next

Bruce Wills, who also farms off the highway, says they were taken by surprise, because the snow came down a lot lower than forecast.

He says they were shearing sheep in 26 degrees on Saturday. The next day they had to muster the same sheep out of 15-20cm of snow and into shelter.

Farmers says lack of warning about the snow created more problems than was necessary.

Lloyd Holloway, who farms sheep on hill country at Waitara Station, says he had only half an hour's warning that the heavy snow was coming.