The weather’s getting warmer, the grass is growing faster, and that rain just won’t let up! Yes, that’s right: spring is in the air. Time to start planning for your lifestyle block babies!
Calves, chicks, lambs, kids, foals, crias (what’s a cria, you ask? A baby alpaca of course!) and ducklings to name just a few; it’s the season for cuteness – but you’d better be sure you’re ready! Here are some ‘be prepared’ basics to ensure your lifestyle block babies are happy and healthy from the moment they appear.
Raising Chicks on your Lifestyle Block
These fluffy little bundles of joy are delightful to have on your lifestyle block. Their cute antics will keep you entertained, while any children (and quite a number of adults!) who come to visit will be instantly won over. There are a couple of things to keep in mind if you’re planning on having chicks or ducklings however, and it’s always a good idea to have these in place so that your wee bundles of fuzz have a comfortable start to life.
Make sure you have clean, warm flooring for your new arrivals. Newspaper is not recommended, as it’s too slippery for their little feet to grip; instead, use wood shavings, and for very young chicks, place paper towels over the shavings to increase their comfort. You’ll also want to make sure the area is not draughty, and stays at a steady, warm temperature. There are quite a few authoritative sources on raising young chicks – we particularly recommend the fantastic backyard chickens website.
Prepare your land for the chick(en) invasion! Many lifestyle block owners prefer to have their chickens free range; the sight of chickens dust-bathing happily in the sun is hard to beat! However; if you have young, vulnerable plants, put chicken-proof fencing around them. If you have a vegetable garden, cover it or fence it. If you have gaps in the fencing surrounding your property, patch them up… otherwise you will find your lovely chicks will likely become tasty snacks for neighbourhood dogs or cats. Make sure they are securely penned at night in a warm, off-ground coop to reduce the risk of predator attack: yes, even in NZ we have the risk of predators! Possums, rats and cats are the biggest threats to wee chicks and even full-grown chickens, so be sure to keep your charges safe.
Raising Lambs on your lifestyle block
Who doesn’t love the sight of a spring lamb gamboling among the daffodils? These leaping, twisting bundles of joy are a pure delight: but they’re also likely to cause pure havoc on your lifestyle block if you haven’t thought things through.
Sheep are naturally peaceable, quiet, flocking animals. Don’t ever hit them, yell at them, or try to separate them, as this will cause them undue stress. When a lamb enters the scene, you will want to ensure the comfort of both the mother and the new arrival by offering a warm, dry, sheltered area for mum and baby to enjoy. You may wish to separate the mother and baby from the rest of the flock at first, however be aware that sheep naturally want to join a group, so when anxiety sets in allow the mother and new lamb to re-join the flock. Be aware that when twins or triplets occur, it is normal for a ewe to select one only, leaving the others to fend for themselves. You may find yourself with a few 4-hourly feeds coming up!
You’ll want to ensure you have the right kind of pasture available and good quality hay when the time comes to stop their milk feeds – and it’s very important to ensure your woolly wonders don’t have free range in your garden, as they’ll eat anything: common flowers such as rhododendrons can be lethal to them. There are a lot more fantastic tips on lamb rearing on the lifestyle block NZ website – check out this article in particular:
Raising Crias on your Lifestyle Block
Alpacas are a firm favourite with New Zealand lifestyle block owners. They are personable and highly prized for their fleece – not to mention their undeniable cute-factor! When looking to have crias on your lifestyle block, you will want to ensure your fencing is much higher than normal – think deer fencing. This is particularly important for when the time comes to wean your cria… and yes, they do need to be weaned! Take a look at the alpaca place for great articles and tips on raising cria.
Enjoy your lifestyle block babies this spring – and if you’re still hunting for that perfect lifestyle block, call our friendly team at goodGround Real Estate for up to date listings and sneak previews of hot rural properties.