Venison demand sparks record prices

Tikana Wapiti Stud bull Larakin sold for the top price of $23,000 at an annual sale in Central...
Tikana Wapiti Stud bull Larakin sold for the top price of $23,000 at an annual sale in Central Southland last week. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
An increasing appetite for bigger cuts of venison in North America sparked record prices at elk and wapiti sales in the South last week, vendors say.

Tikana Wapiti Stud co-owner Dave Lawrence offered 18 wapiti bulls at his annual on-farm sale in Browns.

The bulls on sale included one 2-year-old and one 4-year-old while the rest were 3-year-olds.

Every bull except the 4-year-old sold.

The average sale price of $10,700 was the highest in the history of the sale.

"We were very pleased. It was the most successful sale we’ve had and the most spirited bidding.".

The 3-year-old Larakin sold for the top price of $23,000 to Donald Whyte, of Whyte Farming in Canterbury.

Larakin had a "spectacular" velvet head.

"While he wasn’t the heaviest head of velvet, he had a huge spread and great, long tynes."

The sale had been held on farm for about 20 years.

A group of elk and wapiti breeders sold their stock at Lorneville Saleyard for more than a decade before that, he said.

Demand for elk meat had been growing in North America for the past year, he said.

Traditionally, the venison price schedule peaked for about two months during spring in New Zealand to coincide with the game season in Europe.

As there was no game season in North America, meat companies were paying a premium for elk meat for six months or more to meet demand there.

The increased demand for elk meat in North America "was a little bit transformational" for the industry in New Zealand.

Clachanburn Elk owner John Falconer said there was a full clearance of the 63 terminal sire bulls on offer at his annual elk sale in Puketoi on the Maniototo last week.

"We had an amazing sale. It blew me away, I was so happy."

Clachanburn Elk bull LB20510 fetched the top price of $9000 at the annual bull sale in Puketoi on...
Clachanburn Elk bull LB20510 fetched the top price of $9000 at the annual bull sale in Puketoi on the Maniototo last week.
The average price for the bulls, which were all 3-year-olds, was about $6200, about $2000 up on the average price at the sale last year.

John McGrath, of Iffley farm in North Canterbury, paid the top price of $9000 for bull LB20510.

The $9000 price tag set a record for the most paid for a bull in the history of the sale at Clachanburn.

Bull LB20510 won the elk supreme section of the 41st National Velvet and Trophy Antler Competition in Invercargill last month.

The bull was the first son of sire Tombstone to be offered for sale.

During the Covid pandemic, times had been tough for the industry but it had bounced back as international diners returned to eating in restaurants.

A strong demand for elk venison and velvet was making a "dual-purpose animal" appealing to buyers.

"I’m bloody happy to have the deer industry back and positive and vibrant again."

Littlebourne Farm owner Geoffrey Pullar said he had a full clearance of the 20 bulls on offer at his 35th annual on-farm wapiti sale in Winton last week.

The bulls were all 3-year-olds and fetched a top price of $6000, averaging "a tick over $4000".

Strong demand for bigger cuts of venison in North America was increasing demand for elk and wapiti sires in New Zealand.

His 3-year-old bull LBlue5 won the 3-year elk and wapiti section of the national competition in Invercargill last month.

The future was looking bright for the industry for both venison and velvet.

"The velvet is taking off and we are getting heavier and heavier weights with genetics."

Wapiti is a species of elk.

shawn.mcavinue@alliedpress.co.nz

 

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