Visitors to the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association Otago
branch’s recent field day at AgResearch’s Invermay site got
the chance to explore the 140ha deer farm. Photo by Yvonne
Cautious optimism about the venison industry was one of
the key messages offered by Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz)
chief executive Dan Coup at the New Zealand Deer Farmers'
Association Otago branch's field day at AgResearch's Invermay
About 30 people attended Deer Select workshops in the
morning, then toured Invermay's 140ha deer farm before
listening to presentations in the afternoon.
Invermay has 550 breeding hinds, 14 stags and 180
There was an update on Deer Select from programme manager
Sharon McIntyre and project leader Geoff Asher. Scientist
Colin Mackintosh spoke of results of work on drenches and
parasite control and Frank Griffins talked about his Johne's
Mr Coup joined Dinz last year.
"While not quite the heady days of helicopters in driveways,
the velvet market is better and there is no reason to think
it is not going to keep trundling along quite happily," Mr
He was also "cautiously optimistic" about the venison
industry, particularly regarding the European main markets.
"We have hit the bottom of the cycle and heading up in the
next few years."
Opportunities opening up in Asia contributed to that
While the national herd was declining and there was
competition from Spanish and Polish feral deer coming on to
the market, the northern European markets remained positive.
He wanted to see the industry move away from its
five-to-seven-year cyclic nature, and increase product
differentiation away from poorer quality product competition.
The industry's Passion 2 Profit programme was also moving
The programme had applied to the Primary Growth Partnership
for further help to provide on-farm tools for farmers.
"We have had feedback that they like the idea and now we are
part way through developing a business case."
Dr Asher discussed results from the three-year Deer Progeny
Test programme run across herds at three sites, including
It had been looking at improving sire linkage between herds,
providing a plat› form to evaluate breeding values across
breeds, and providing a starting point for evaluation of
He said the 24 herds in the programme were now linked so that
it was possible to produce genetic comparisons across all
Farmers were able to compare the traits of an animal from one
farm with those in the other herds and do so with a
reasonable level of confidence.
That would improve both genetic gain as well as meat quality
and sensory traits and temperament.
He said a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism chip with 50,000
gene markers (which can identify individual genes for an
animal in a DNA sequence) for deer had been developed and
would be released later this year.
Dr Mackintosh reported on research into parasite control and
the efficacy of oral, injection and pour-on Moxidectin and
Abamectin drenches for killing parasites in weaner deer.
While there was a 100% kill rate for lungworm and oesophagia,
the kill rates for ostertagia ranged from 4% to 87%, with
pour-on being the least effective. A 95% kill rate is
considered a critical level.
- by Yvonne O'Hara