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Drought-hit farmers turn to cardboard boxes, insulated shed to give lambs a chance

Kelly Fuller, Friday September 7, 2018 - 19:20 EST
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The lambs are housed in wax-sealed boxes in a shed. - ABC

Parents have slogged through sleepless nights for generations and survived the exhaustion that comes with round the clock feeding.

But imagine 40 little mouths that demanded feeding five times a day?

For graziers Janice and Ray Nutt, that has been their experience this winter as they go above and beyond to ensure the welfare of their flock which includes lambs that have been orphaned during the drought.

They've even set up 10 cardboard boxes in a specially-built insulated shed on their farm on the NSW Northern Tablelands to house the 40 orphaned and abandoned lambs.

"All our animals we know, and they are special to us, both Janice and myself love our animals, it is quite hard at the moment," Mr Nutt said.

Ironically, despite the drought, the prime lamb producers have managed a good season with 341 lambs born to 195 sheep.

Forty-seven of them needed special attention, and before they even arrived Ms Nutt spent time preparing for them.

"I made 40 jackets ready thinking we would have 40 pet lambs, all crocheted each night leading up to it. About a jacket a night to be prepared for the cold," she said.

The lambs start off in the house where they are fed five times a day.

"They are first fed with colostrum milk to give them the antibodies they need, so they have one litre of that milk before they change onto their formula and then they get to the insulated shed as soon as possible," she said.

For the time being, their homes are wax sealed boxes.

"The boxes are lined with a mattress that has a mattress protector, a woollen top and quilt inside all made leading up to the [lambing] season.

The couple said intensive lambing like this was always time consuming, but the drought had made it that much more exhausting.

The couple's 15-year-old son Rick helps out when he is not away at boarding school, and he said the impact of the drought had been confronting when he was home on weekends.

"I come home on a Friday night and see the damage the drought has done in a week and the toll it has put on Mum and Dad, it's pretty hard to see," he said.

The family admitted it is hard work, but the wonder of spring with its flush of new life made it all worthwhile.

"It is hard when it is really frosty and cold and you put another layer on and you hope you get through, but it is a lovely time of year," Mr Nutt said.

"You are through the worst part of winter and the days are getting longer, its getting warmer — so it is a lot of fun," said Mr Nutt.


© ABC 2018

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