News Media releases Urgent action needed for newborn lambs hammered by polar blasts

Urgent action needed for newborn lambs hammered by polar blasts

October 6th, 2022

With more severe weather expected, SAFE is urging farmers to take immediate measures to protect newborn lambs.

Heavy snowfall overnight has left countless lambs at the mercy of the freezing conditions.

SAFE Head of Investigations Will Appelbe said farming practices have to change.

“Every year, lambs born in the late winter and spring are caught out in the cold by icy blasts,” said Appelbe.

“While this weather event is unique, severe weather events like this are likely to become more common as climate change worsens.”

Up-to-date lamb mortality rates are infrequently published. But 2013 data from Beef + Lamb shows that lamb deaths can range from 5-26% on average, usually from malnutrition and exposure. Some 70% of lamb deaths can be prevented by better nutrition and preventive measures.

“Farming practices must change, including better shelter which is sorely lacking on New Zealand farms. Access to adequate shelter is a requirement of the Animal Welfare Act. Weather events like this shouldn’t be catching anyone by surprise in 2022.”

“Ultimately we need a Commissioner for Animals so we can see some structural change to the agriculture sector that better protects vulnerable animals from the elements.”


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