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A course in how to manage and handle deer could be rolled out in South Canterbury in the spring.
A pilot block course was held at Netherdale Deer Stud, Balfour, Southland earlier this month and further courses could be held nationally depending on demand, Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) producer manager Tony Pearse said.
For several years, training opportunities had been limited, so a 12-month level 3 training course had been developed to ''fill the gap''.
About 70% of the national deer herd was farmed on commercial sheep and beef farms and in some regions - especially in the high country of both islands - the majority of farms had deer.
As well, there were many farms that previously farmed deer and that could do so again in response to changing market conditions, he said.
The course was being managed by 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 needed to farm deer safely, efficiently and profitably.
Students would receive a New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture (livestock husbandry, deer).
A three-day block training course would be followed by a second course after six months.
Block courses would include tuition in deer behaviour, nutrition, breeding and genetics, deer health and management, and hands-on experience on farms.
Participants would be assessed by a tutor while working on deer farms. On-farm assessments would make up 80% of course requirements.
Block course fees would be 60% supported by sponsorship from deer industry organisations and service companies.
For more information, contact Primary ITO by telephoning 0800 208-020, or go to: www.primaryito.ac.nz.