17 Sep 2015

Dos and don'ts of bringing up a pet lamb

2:11 pm on 17 September 2015

It's that time of year again: schools around the country are holding pet days, and pet lambs proving a popular option.

The Uruguay round increased the amount of lamb New Zealand could export to the UK to 228,000 tonnes.

Photo: 123RF

But bringing up a pet lamb can be fraught with difficulty. Rural News went to Elsthorpe Primary School in central Hawke's Bay to find out from one of the winners of the pet lamb competition what it takes to bring up a champion lamb.

Phoebe, who has been a winner in the competition for four years in a row, said the first consideration was having enough space for the lamb.

"Because if you've got a small backyard and you are trying to keep the lambs in it, it's just too hard," she said.

"If you don't have the time, if you are really busy at work - at the start they have to be fed six times a day and you have to be home for that time.

"If you don't feed them six times a day, they will probably die or get really sick so you have to make sure you feed them."

Go goat! A student poses with her champion pet at Elsthorpe Primary School in central Hawke's Bay.

Go goat! A student poses with her champion pet at Elsthorpe Primary School in central Hawke's Bay. Photo: RNZ / Peter Fowler

Phoebe said taking factors such as weather and feed levels into account were also important.

"They have to be warm, because if it's raining and out in the cold, they can get hypothermia and they die really, really easily.

"And you've got to make sure you are feeding them the right amount because if you feed them far too much then they get bloated and die."

Calves are also welcome at Elsthorpe Primary School's pet day.

Calves are also welcome at the annual event. Photo: RNZ / Peter Fowler

For more specialist skills such as walking with a leash, she said being kind was the key.

"If you just treat it like it's stupid and it's not listening and push it away, then it will probably not be nice to you," she said.

"If you look after it and be nice, it will be good and won't get upset and will lead well. When you are practising leading it, don't drag it everywhere - because if you drag it, they won't like a lead at all."

'Pet Day' is an annual event at Elsthorpe Primary School. Children are invited to bring their pets to school and spend the day competing for trophies in categories such as best lamb, best-dressed pet and best dog.

An aerial shot of the pet day at Elsthorpe Primary School.

An aerial shot of the pet day at Elsthorpe Primary School. Photo: RNZ / Peter Fowler

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs