South Island farmers thankful as wild winter weather narrowly avoids peak lambing season

Farmers are counting their blessings after days of heavy rain, snow and freezing temperatures across the South Island. 

Over two days, Oamaru has recorded double its average rainfall for the whole month of August. Most inland parts of the South Island have shivered in temperatures below five degrees all weekend. 

The winter storm has refused to let up, with heavy rain saturating parts of South Canterbury and North Otago. Roads have been flooded and one highway has even been closed.

The storm has brought snow and major flooding, leaving newborn stock vulnerable and farmers worried. 

It was another sleepless night for farmers as cold and sodden newborn lambs struggled in the freezing temperatures. 

Lambs. Photo credit: File.

"My husband has been up since 1am checking the cows and bringing calves in, giving them a nice drink of warm colostrum," local resident Vanessa Shefford told Newshub.

Heavy machinery is the only way to get food through the wild weather, with many tractors up to their axles in flood water.

"It's going to be a bit mucky and difficult to feed out for the next few days," says Federated Farmers' spokesperson Miles Anderson.

Federated Farmers are thankful that most farmers haven't hit peak lambing season just yet. 

"Had this happened in another few weeks, there may have been a number of stock losses - which would have had an effect," says Anderson.

Now, farmers are waiting for everything to dry out.

"We just want it to stop now," Anderson jokes.

Here's hoping the worst has passed for the new winter lambs.