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How farmers react when the Bureau of Meteorology issues a sheep grazier warning

Sheep can die from wet and windy weather. (Supplied: themortz/Instagram)

With winter approaching, the sheep grazier warning becomes a frequent and chilling feature of ABC weather forecasts and alerts from the Bureau of Meteorology.

So what does it mean and how do farmers react? 

As the name suggests, the warning is mainly for sheep farmers, telling them that forecast weather could kill their livestock.

Bureau meteorologist Jessica Lingard said while the warning was aimed at woolgrowers, it was an alert for all livestock farmers.

"It's when we have some wet weather coming through, so something like a cold front, followed by cold air," she said.

"When the sheep are all wet, because it's been raining, and then you get this chilly, cold air as well, it can cause sheep death."

She said it was similar to when a person emerged into cool air from a pool or the surf.

"You're all wet and as soon as there's any breeze, it suddenly makes it feel 10 times worse," she said.

Freshly shorn sheep and lambs are most at risk during a cold front with wind chill. (Supplied: Homebush farm)

Freshly shorn and young sheep tended to be most at risk of death during the cold conditions.

"[It's] not really, sort of the warning that is for most of the general population, but it does help to save the farmers, you know, a little bit of their livelihoods," Ms Lingard said.

What comes next?

When farmers see the warning, or feel that chill in the air, they swing into action to protect their sheep.

Highbury sheep feedlotter Murray Blight said he had a few ways of managing the situation on his property about 200 kilometres south-east of Perth.

"Try and shift your sheep to appropriate paddocks if you've got them," he said.

"If you know the wind's coming from the east and you've got bush on the east side of the paddock, put the sheep in that paddock," he said.

"I've mixed shorn sheep with woolly sheep to shelter them from the wind, just like the penguins."

Farmers find ways to protect their sheep when a warning is issued. (Supplied: Kristen Lynette Westley)

He said he had also put sheep into a shearing shed to shelter them from the weather.

"If it gets really cold and really wet, the sheep can freeze the fat around their kidneys," he said.

Mr Blight said he had experienced a severe stock loss due to wet and windy weather before.

"When I was much younger, between us and the two neighbours, we lost 1,000 sheep in a January flood, where we had six and a half inches over three days," he said.

"The warnings are good. If you know in advance, you can prepare a little bit."

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