Woolley wonder mum a prolific breeder

Woolley wonder mum a prolific breeder

Sheep are prolific breeders and that's part of why there are millions in this country. But one thing that is rare is for one ewe to have four or five lambs in one go.

So you can imagine the excitement when sextuplets were born in the Wairarapa. It could be a New Zealand record, if records were actually kept.

"We did a little bit of research and Massey said the chance was one in a million," says sheep farmer Rex Saywell. "It is fairly rare, but probably not that uncommon in a country with tens of millions of sheep. But it's pretty rare."

Using those numbers, theoretically there could be 30 sets of sextuplets in New Zealand because there are 30 million sheep, but it's highly unlikely.

The sheep are a breed known for multiple births, called East Friesians. Even if you do get five or six babies from one ewe, she simply can't produce enough milk to keep that many lambs alive.

"Having six, it is fairly demanding on her," says Mr Saywell.

He knows there will be some sheepish sceptics out there who may doubt the authenticity of his sextuplets, but he's willing to submit to any DNA test. He also says that on the day they were born he separated the ewe from the rest of the flock when he saw her in labour. They've been under close watch ever since.

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