Fernhurst farmers feed lambs in cold spring

Jodie Mariner bottle feeding one of quins.
Jodie Mariner bottle feeding one of quins.

LAMBING is a difficult enough time for farmers, but the Marriner family, from Dawes Farm, in Fernhurst, are having to work harder than ever.

The family has 300 ewes lambing over three weeks of the coldest spring they have ever known, with temperatures below freezing both day and night. Bob and Tina Marriner, with the help of sons Jake, Toby and thirteen-year-old Jodie have all been joining in the night shifts.

One night, lambs borns to fourteen ewes had to be brought inside, rubbed warm, kept by the fire and frequently bottle fed. Others stay under heat lamps while they get stronger.

The ewes were planned to lamb in late March and early April when the spring sunshine usually makes it possible for lambs to live outside in the fields.

Multiple births cause as many problems as single births - four or five lambs is too much for ewes and they have to be bottle fed or fostered.

Bob says he is ‘very grateful’ to have so far escaped the virus deforming so many lambs in other parts of the country.

If the sun comes out, life for all farmers who are lambing will improve immediately.

But in the meantime extra bedding, feed, heating and long hours throughout the night is just another problem for farmers, following on from last spring’s drought and the record rainfall since.