Pilot training course in deer handling to start

A training course in how to manage and handle farmed deer has been developed, with a pilot run starting in Southland next month.

For several years, training opportunities had been very limited so a 12-month level 3 training course had been developed to ''fill the gap'', Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) producer manager Tony Pearse said.

A pilot block course is being held at Netherdale deer stud at Balfour on April 9, followed by one in South Canterbury in the spring. After that course ended, there would be courses in the North and South Islands in response to a hopefully increasing demand, Mr Pearse said.

The course was being managed by the Primary ITO and presented by Agribusiness Training Ltd, with assistance from DINZ staff, deer farmers and veterinarians.

It would provide the theoretical and practical knowledge people working on farms needed to farm deer safely, efficiently and profitably. Students would receive a New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture (livestock husbandry, deer).

There will be a three-day block training course, followed by a second course after six months. Block courses would include formal tuition in deer behaviour, nutrition, breeding and genetics, deer health and management, visits to deer farms and hands-on experience.

Participants will be able to apply what they have learned while working on a deer farm where they will be assessed by a Primary ITO tutor. On-farm assessments will make up 80% of course requirements.

Block course fees will be 60% supported by sponsorship from deer industry organisations and service companies.