The search is on for a North Canterbury deer focus farm.
Hawarden brothers Sam and Mark Zino hosted their last field
day on Thursday, March 20, at the completion of their
three-year stint as the region's deer focus farm.
However, facilitator Wayne Allan said it had been confirmed
the focus farm programme would continue.
Deer Industry New Zealand's (DINZ) Canterbury branch was
seeking expressions of interest from a deer farmer either in
the Oxford area or south of the Waimakariri River, he said.
''They want to get a more central location to make it more
accessible to people.''
North Canterbury stretches from the Rangitata River to
Before the Zinos' farm, Mendip Hills Station, near Parnassus,
north of Cheviot, was the focus farm from 2008 to 2011.
Mr Allan said about 45 people attended last month's field day
to discuss the farm's successes over the past three years,
what did not go well and future targets.
The Zinos set five-to-eight-year goals at the start of the
three-year programme, some goals have already been achieved
and others are well on the way.
''Three years is a short span of time for a farm business, so
there was strong interest in having another field day in 12
months' time and I'm quite keen to go back after three years
and see how it's all going,'' Mr Allan said.
The Zinos set three key targets - increasing the reproductive
rates of yearling hinds, improving fawning weights and
improving finished carcass weights. Yearling reproductive
rates had improved from 70% to 85% this year, just short of
the 90% target, while the weaning weight target was to
improve from 53kg to 63kg at March 1 and finished carcass
weights to 63kg at December 10.
''We changed the playing field by weaning 25 days earlier,
but Sam managed a 3kg improvement by the previous weaning
date,'' Mr Allan said.
''Sam has revised the weaning target to 58kg at March 1. This
is planned to be achieved by advancing the mating and fawning
by a further 10 days, and also lifting pre-weaning growth
rates a further 35g per day.''
The Zinos planned to increase feed quality, look at further
lucerne varieties, seek earlier fawning hinds, to cull more
older hinds and to analyse the performance of terminal sires
to help achieve this target, Mr Allan said.
Weaners were now being sold 47 days earlier, on October 20 ,
''so it is costing less to produce and selling at a higher
''With the success to date, Sam has now revised his target to
achieving a season mean of 60kg carcass weight at October 20,
rather than December 10,'' Mr Allan said.
A Johne's disease-screening programme for replacement hinds,
which was introduced 18 months before the Zinos entered the
focus farm programme, ''has had a huge impact on reducing the
weaner death rate'' back to 1.5% and 2% in the last two
seasons, Mr Allan said.
''Losses had been up to 12% prior to the commencement of the
Johne's screening programme.''
The Zinos were presented with the prize for winning this
year's Silver Fern Farms ''Pasture to the Plate'' competition
for ''supplying animals to meet market specifications.
Anyone interested in the next North Canterbury deer focus
farm can contact the DINZ Canterbury branch.
- by David Hill