Farmer Focus: It’s great to share the lambing workload

We started lambing on 10 March and were incredibly lucky. The first two weeks we had awesome weather and lambed more than 1,000 ewes in that time. I think using the teasers really helped condense things.

Huw, a good friend from Wales, came to help us through the first three weeks, which has been priceless as this year we have had more than 800 first-time lambers.

Farmers Matt and Pip Smith with some of their flock

Matt and Pip Smith © Jim Wileman

With the winter we have had and the condition the ewes are in, some young mums can be bad at keeping track of their lambs. So being able to share the workload has been great.

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This year has been another great learning curve for me as we scanned a lot of triplets and a few quads. Looking at the situation we decided to hire a lamb-rearing machine, which for a Kiwi was not in the rule book.

The main reason for this was that last year Pip and my father-in-law, Jimmy, did a lot of wet adoptions, which with Romneys was a bit hit and miss – sometimes working well, other times being a complete waste of time and money.

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Also, looking at the condition of our singles after doing them hard through the winter, we didn’t think they would cope with two.

So we have just been putting any spare lambs on it – and so far, so good. The lambs are looking really good, so we will keep you posted.

I’m still managing to get to the gym three times a week, even if it involves turning up smelling of sheep in my dealer boots after dropping lambs off to slaughter.

This wouldn’t have been possible without Jimmy tending to any problems that come in and Huw doing the midday lambing beats.

We have also had a few holiday-makers from Jimmy and Sheila’s cottages stay through lambing and they enjoyed coming out and around with us.

I think when they go home they are pleased to be back with a nine-to-five work schedule in a heated office, but hopefully they are wiser and more appreciative of rural life.


Matt and Pip Smith run 1,085 breeding Romneys and Romney cross Lleyn ewes across 121ha. Matt is also a shearing contractor and trains sheep dogs.

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