Farmers’ strive to save flock from devastating winter conditions

HUNGRY: Mary and Des Taylor feed Stampy the baby lamb. Photo: JUDE KEOGH                                    0626sheep

HUNGRY: Mary and Des Taylor feed Stampy the baby lamb. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0626sheep

THERE’S always challenges when looking after animals but farmer Des Taylor believes climate is the biggest obstacle when looking after lambs.

Mr Taylor says the combination of a cold, rainy and windy day or night can have deadly consequences for his lambs. 

“The wind chill is the biggest thing, especially when the lambs are born into the rain and the wind, they will have a bit of trouble trying to survive,” he said.

He hasn’t lost any lambs so far this year but it is not rare for them to die on his farm.

“We have had nights here when we have lost a large number of lambs, the ewes for some reason seem to hold off until the weather is really bad and then you will have lots of numbers being born into bad conditions,” he said.

To help save sheep and lambs, Mr Taylor always attempts to put them in sheltered paddocks.

However, sheep do a pretty good job of looking after themselves, Mr Taylor says.

“Sheep aren’t as dumb as people think, the lambs will huddle behind objects for warmth, if they have a good mother she will feed them as soon as they are born and take them behind trees and logs for shelter,” he said.

The biggest concern for newborns is when ewes give birth to triplets.

“The newborn lambs are in danger when they are one of three, their mother can look after twins but triplets tend to be too much,” Mr Taylor said. 

On the rare occasion triplets are born, Mr Taylor will look after the third lamb.

Mr Taylor has recently begun to focus more on cattle farming and has decreased the amount of ewes on his property from 2400 to 450.

He says it’s because of physical restraints more than anything.

“Cattle are a bit easier on the back, I’ve strained my back a few times over the years,” he said.

The 1250-acre farm has been in Mr Taylor’s family for five generations and they’ve been on the property since 1856.

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