Canterbury farmer Sam Zino is well on the way to showing that
deer farming is a viable alternative.
The region's deer focus farm facilitator, Wayne Allan, said
Mr Zino had achieved most of his goals and had increased
production and profit at a time when the venison price was
Mr Zino and his brother, Mark, were selected as the North
Canterbury deer focus farm in 2011 for three years. At the
time, Mr Zino said he wanted to demonstrate that deer farming
''What Sam has shown is that if you're smart about it and you
take a planned approach then deer farming can be a highly
economic land-use option,'' Mr Allan said.
The Zino brothers run two properties near Hawarden, one on
the flat at Flaxmere, and the other on hill and downland
country at Kanuka Downs, farming deer, sheep and beef cattle,
and grazing dairy cows. The deer are Hungarian hinds mated
largely to a Wapiti sire.
Mr Allan said Mr Zino set goals over five to six years, when
first selected as the focus farm. Some had already been
achieved within three years, including reducing the death
rates of the fawns and drafting yearlings earlier and at
heavier weights. He was also well on the way to achieving his
target of 90% fawning to the stag from maiden hinds.
''He was getting 85% scanning from the yearling hinds when he
first started and improved to 93% last year and achieved a
scanning of 100% this year, which gives him a chance of
achieving the 90% fawning [to the stag].''
Mr Zino was due to tag and weigh the fawns at the end of last
month, with weaning set down for late this month, Mr Allan
''Then we will get some growth rates, which is quite handy.
In the past the growth rates started to drop off approaching
weaning, so it will be interesting to see how they go this
Mr Allan said Mr Zino had been weaning three weeks earlier
than he was three years ago and ''the weight is being held,
so he is three weeks better off''.
While his stint as the North Canterbury deer focus farmer was
coming to an end, Mr Zino was already looking to the future
and setting more goals for the next three years, including
improving the fawning of mixed-age hinds and fawn survival
rates, and further improvements in pre-weaning and
post-weaning growth rates.
- The final field day as part the three-year focus farm
programme will be held at the Zino farm late next month. Mr
Allan said the final field day would be an opportunity to
discuss what had worked well, what had not worked so well and
look at the farm action plan to achieve opportunities which
had been targeted for the future.
- David North