Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Stock walks 45km to be sold after N Canterbury roads washed out

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By hook or shepherd’s crook, Lake Station on-farm sale goes head after weather-related delays.
With road access washed out, shepherds walked 4000 sheep on a 45km, two-day journey out of Lakes Station.
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After being postponed in February because of a major weather event, the Lakes Station on-farm sheep sale was eventually held last week.

Located near Hawarden in North Canterbury, Lakes Station had 20,000 sheep in holding paddocks waiting to be weaned for the annual sale when the access road was washed out the day before.

“It couldn’t have been worse timing,” Hazlett Rural livestock agent Alby Orchard said.

“It has taken six weeks to get the road back to allow truck and trailer units to navigate the washout area of the road, and finally we have held the sale.”

The contingency plan was to wean the lambs and fortunately, Orchard said, with coastal North Canterbury having had a “very good summer”, grazing was found for 2500 of the breeding ewes.

The remainder of the ewes were put back on the hills while the lambs were spread across the lower hill country until road access allowed the re-scheduling of the on-farm sale.       

“With Hawarden area having plenty of feed, this allowed us to find grazing for a sizeable number of the breeding ewes.

“This was to take some pressure off the grazing back at Lakes Station as it was still very dry in there.”

The Lakes Station stock team walked the 2500 breeding ewes out on a 45km journey from the station to grazing.

There were also 1500 annual draft ewes walked out to Hawarden in mid-February and trucked to the Sheffield ewe fair, where they averaged $140.

“This was a two-day journey for the shepherds, who camped out on the roadsides overnight to contain the mob.

“This was like winding the clock back 60 to 70 years as this was the way many properties moved their sheep around back then,” Orchard said. 

Six weeks later the sale proved highly successful.

“The market had strengthened sufficiently throughout the Canterbury region with a lot more cropping farmers entering the market with most of the lambs going to North, Central and Mid Canterbury areas.

The sale consisted of 6500 Romdale mixed sex lambs and 200 annual draft Romdale Ewes.

The lambs averaged $127 with the Down cross mixed sex lambs selling from $114-$151, Romdale wether lambs $125-$151, Romdale ewe lambs $88-$125 and the Romdale annual draft ewes fetched $74-$118.

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