View on wintering deer bucks opinion

Whiterock Station manager Ross Stevens told a group of about 60 at a Deer Industry NZ Focus Farm field day at Braemar Station raising deer through winter in the high country required good planning. Photo by Ruth Grundy.
Whiterock Station manager Ross Stevens told a group of about 60 at a Deer Industry NZ Focus Farm field day at Braemar Station raising deer through winter in the high country required good planning. Photo by Ruth Grundy.
There were some who would say it was not profitable to winter deer in the high country, but Ross Stevens, of Whiterock Station, disagrees.

Mr Stevens was speaking to a group of about 60 people at a recent Deer Industry New Zealand Focus Farm field day at Braemar Station.

''Winter bites in the high country and it bites for a long time,'' Mr Stevens said.

But with an appropriate feeding regime and good animal health management ''weaners are easier than sheep'', he said.

The key was to find a way to feed effectively ''through the shoulders'' and maintain condition through the pineal shutdown.

Farmers should aim to hit the ''sweet spot'' between stocking rate and growing carcass weight to meet the kill date.

If something went wrong at any point, plans and dates could ''spew out'', he said.

For maximum profitability it was important to plan to add weight in autumn as far as possible so as to meet the optimum kill date for the chilled trade season.

Nicky Hyslop, DINZ Focus Farm facilitator, said the cost of taking weaners through winter was ''not pretty''.

It was important not to underestimate the amount of planning which had gone into getting the timing right at Whiterock, she said.

Mr Stevens said weaning early helped conception rates and leaving fawns with the hinds adversely affected weight gain.

With regard to condition, the hinds were often at ''knife edge'' so you had to know when to take the fawns off them, he said.

Mrs Hyslop said it was important to take a whole-farm approach to stock management and for the farmer to learn about the ''key trigger points'' for deer on their own property.