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21 July, 1999
Shearing of ewes prior to lambing can have real advantages, according to
the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Dave Barbour of MAF's Animal Welfare Enforcement Unit says it can
result in increased newborn lamb body weights, it can reduce the amount of sleepy sickness
in ewes before lambing and it can reduce the number of newborn lambs which die in bad
weather. "But nothing in life comes free, and farmers must appreciate that these
benefits can only be realised if shorn ewes are provided with extra feed and good
Mr Barbour says the great majority of farmers understand this very well
without it having to be spelled out. "However there are still a few who gamble with
their ewes' and lambs' health and welfare, and with their own profits too. They
pre-lamb shear with too little feed and shelter to reap benefits."
He says that forward planning is the key to profitable farming. "Any
farmer who is uncertain of the logistics should consult an expert before contemplating
Mr Barbour recommends using winter combs for pre-lamb shearing, because
these leave a short layer of wool to help protect ewes from cold weather. Ewes in light
body condition on tight feed should not be shorn in winter.
David Barbour, MAF Enforcement Unit, P O Box 271, Rangiora
Phone 021 337 128 Fax 03 313 0045.