Government funding given to deer farming project

Deer Industry New Zealand is seeking to lift profit on venison by $2 a kg over 10 years. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Deer Industry New Zealand is seeking to lift profit on venison by $2 a kg over 10 years. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
A $500,000 project aimed at increasing deer farming profitability has attracted Government support through the Sustainable Farming Fund.

The SFF will contribute up to $225,000 over the next three years to the Advance Parties project, with the balance of funding from Deer Industry New Zealand.

Six Advance Party groups have been established in Otago, Southland, South Canterbury, Mackenzie, Canterbury and Hawkes Bay.

Each involved six to eight deer farmers who were trialling the concept. They identified on-farm issues limiting profitability and worked with other farmers to come up with solutions.

Dinz chief executive Dan Coup was grateful for the support provided by the SFF, which had appreciated the ''novelty'' and the merit of the Advance Parties concept.

Dinz saw that as a strong endorsement for the organisation's overall deer farming profitability strategy Passion2Profit, which sought to lift profit on venison by $2 per kg over 10 years.

In its funding application, Dinz said that with improved genetics, feeding and animal health, the industry could double its export sales in seven years, with little increase in inputs.

It was up to the farmers in each group to decide what issues they wanted to focus on.

If it was increasing fawn survival to 85% - average fawn survival to sale is 74%, a figure that has remained constant for 20 years - that alone would increase net farm income per hind by $40, or $16,000 a year in a typical 400-hind herd, Mr Coup said.

Leading farmers were achieving fawn survival percentages in the mid-90s and venison yields 25% higher than their peersThey had shown the potential for greatly improved deer farm profitability was ''out there''. Advance Parties were an innovative way for mainstream farmers to tap into that potential, he said.

The concept would be refined, based on the experience of this year's trial, and fully launched next year.

The Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries, released earlier this month by the Ministry for Primary Industries, said constrained supply and an increase in European demand was expected to lift venison prices.

Canterbury red deer stud breeder Clive Jermy has been appointed to the Dinz board for a three-year term, replacing Tim Aitken, from Hawkes Bay.

Mr Jermy is a former board chairman, who stood down in 2007. Before that, he was chairman of the New Zealand Deer Farmers' Association.

Prior to moving to Canterbury, his Stanfield's stud was based at Palmerston.

The unsuccessful candidates were Mr Aitken, who stood for re-election, and Otago-based businessman and deer farmer Grant Cochrane.

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