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Farmers fear summer El Nino drought as Spring rains wipe out lamb stocks

Farmers across the North Island counting the cost of a wild start to spring, with thousands of lambs lost due to heavy rain, may soon have another problem to contend with.

Their attention has turned to the coming summer, with those on the East Coast concerned a predicted El Nino weather pattern could bring drought, turning the green hills bone dry.

"It's a matter of making decisions early and keeping an eye on it, a drought normally happens slowly, and you've got some time to get used adapt to it," Federated Farmers Jim Galloway says.

The warning comes as some Hawke's Bay farmers have reported losing nearly 30 per cent of their flocks due to recent heavy unseasonal rain.

Farmer Ben Crosse told 1 NEWS that he lost around 750 of his new-borns.

"New-born lambs are very vulnerable, particularly in the young ewes who are having their first lamb and are a bit more hesitant.

"The lamb birth weight's lighter, so it takes the first-born lamb a wee while to get a drink, and they sometimes can't get going in the rain," Mr Crosse said.

After a wet start, it could be a long hot summer ahead for many New Zealand lambs.

Some Hawke’s Bay farmers have reported losing nearly 30 per cent of their flock. Source: 1 NEWS