On the next episode, screening 11 June 2017 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:
Every Lamb Counts
Wairarapa sheep and beef farmers Lynley and Matt Wyeth make every lamb count.
All over rural New Zealand, late-winter lambing losses can be high, costly and dispiriting, but for many farmers a certain level of stock loss is just a normal risk.
To Matt and Lynley, any losses are unacceptable and at Spring Valley Farm near Masterton, they go to remarkable lengths to mitigate the risk.
We know we can’t save them all,’ Matt Wyeth, says. ‘But we want to give every single one a fighting chance.’
But they’re not just bottle-feeding a few wobbly lambs by the fire. Theirs is a high-tech intensive-care lamb orphanage, usually with a couple of hundred residents at lambing time.
Matt, his staff, and often his sons Alex, 11 and Cam, 8, spend several hours a day checking on their 3000 breeding ewes and scooping up any lamb that’s not going to survive in the elements.
The lucky orphans are rushed in the ‘Lambulance’ to Lynley Wyeth’s five-star nursery sheds, which are warm, dry and custom-fitted for their woolly guests. Lynley, too, puts in long days, feeding, warming up and health-checking her many charges.
Her system grades the animals on their degree of dependency. At worst they are scrawny, hypothermic runts who can’t stand up or even suck from a bottle. These have to be intubated and incubated.
As they gain in strength they graduate through the training pens, from being bottle-fed to learning to help themselves from the Wyeths’ ingenious home-made self-feeders.
In 10 to 12 weeks, the bonny bundles of woolly energy are ready to graduate out onto the pasture.
‘It’s very rewarding to ask Lynley at night: “How was the lamb I brought in that was on death’s door?” and to see it jumping around the pen all healthy,’ Matt says.
Matt and Lynley both come from long-standing farming families and hope their boys will be 7th generation on the land. Both Matt’s and Lynley’s parents continue to be actively involved in the farming operation and are there to lend a hand at busy times such as docking.
Both cite their parents as their top role models and are very conscious of their good fortune being able to continue their forebears’ legacy.
‘We’re just putting the icing on the cake,’ Matt says.
For more about the Wyeths’ farm, visit:www.facebook.com/Spring-Valley-Enterprises
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