DINZ news in brief 23 April 2021

DINZ news in brief 23 April 2021

Friday, April 23, 2021

Join us at the 2021 Deer Industry Conference: The 2021 conference on 18 & 19 May in Invercargill is the first industry face-to-face conference in two years, so how about coming along to hear some top-notch speakers, catch up with your industry friends and enjoy a great social programme?

The full programme is here, plus there will be a printed version inserted in April Deer Industry News, due out later this week.

The conference is followed by a National Technical Workshop on 20 May, also in Invercargill. This will feature key topics of interest to farmers, facilitated workshops and a tech expo all under one roof.  It’s a free event, but we ask that people register by clicking on the link above for Covid-19 contact tracing and catering purposes.

Topics will include winter grazing, indoor wintering and animal welfare; genetics, including coverage of genomics and the new across-breed evaluation index; VelTrak; Velvet and National Velvetting Standards Body (NVSB) updates.

Give weaners priority: With winter feed tight in some regions, it makes sense for farmers to give their weaners priority access to the quality feed they have on hand during autumn. This will ensure weight gain is maximised in the deer growth window that draws to a close in early June.

Red weaners on irrigated plantain, an ideal autumn feed for weaners. Photo: Richard Hilson

“Make every cent count,” advises DINZ farm performance manager Phil McKenzie. “Feeding weaners well in autumn pays good returns so, if grass is lacking, consider supplements. It is challenging to put on significant weight over winter, so make the most of genetics and the growth opportunity now. Basically their weight going into July is an accurate predictor of whether they will make the cut for spring venison contracts, or – in the case of females – their mating weight as yearlings.”

DINZ Deer Growth Curves  
DINZ Deer Fact: Growing weaners for the spring venison market

Green drought biting in some regions: Along the east coast of both islands, as well as Nelson and Marlborough, many farmers are faced with very dry conditions. Pastures are green but there is not enough soil moisture for them to grow.

The government is providing funding for a feed planning service that is open to all livestock owners and helps farmers complete a feed plan. A feed coordination service also connects farmers who are short of feed with available sources of supplement, such as silage and hay. These services can be accessed by phoning 0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 233 352).

DINZ producer manager Tony Pearse says if deer need to be moved from a farm because of a lack of feed, contact the local branch of the NZDFA They may know of a deer-fenced property in your area that has surplus feed.

DINZ Deer Fact: Drought feeding and management  
B+LNZ: Extreme dry management

Getting our heads around greenhouse gases: The deer industry is a partner in He Waka Eke Noa – The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership. This aims to equip farmers and growers with the information, tools and support they need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to climate change.

“Our fellow New Zealanders expect us to be doing our bit to reduce climate disruption. Also many of our customers are concerned about the environmental footprint of the food they eat,” says DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat.

“Achieving the greenhouse gas reductions that are being called for by the Climate Change Commission and government will not be easy. Indeed, you could say their targets are unrealistic, but by being an active participant in He Waka Eke Noa we stand a better chance of being heard. Of getting workable policies adopted.”

He Waka Eke Noa's milestone for the end of 2021 is for a quarter of farms to know their annual total on-farm greenhouse gas emissions. DINZ encourages deer farmers to engage with what’s involved in achieving this. Have a look at https://hewakaekenoa.nz/tools for information about your farm's emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, how to measure them and how to reduce them, ideally while not affecting profitability.

Photo: Weaners in fog, by Richard Hilson

If you can’t get to Invercargill: A North Island Deer Tech Expo is being held in Palmerston North on 30 June and 1 July 2021. With a theme of ‘Adding value’, it will feature new technologies and ideas intended to add value to farm businesses. It is open to all farmers who will have plenty of opportunity to catch up, and share experiences.

Workshops will run during the afternoon of the first day and morning of the second day. Farmers will discuss selected topics, share ideas, and report on what has or has not worked for them. Farmers will be asked to choose their preferred workshop topics when registering.

You will be able to attend four of the 10 topics on offer, but will be asked to choose six options, with two as backups in case one or two of your first choices don’t go ahead.

For more information and to register >>

Kaumatua of Deer Genetics dies: Don Bennett, the driving force behind Deer Genetics – one of the industry’s most influential and long-standing deer studs – died suddenly last week, aged 75. Only two days earlier he was enjoying the company of industry friends at the South Canterbury North Otago NZDFA annual meeting.

Lynda Gray, author of the upcoming book Deer Farming in NZ - The Book, says Don’s involvement with deer started in the mid-1970s when he was the MAF meat inspector in charge of wild recovered venison supplied to Bergs Game in Whakatane. He started trading live deer and before long was taken on by Dalgety as a deer rep, becoming their North Island deer manager in the early 1980s.

“He eventually branched out on his own as an independent agent for deer, venison and velvet procurement. He also imported deer. The Bennett family moved south in the late 1980s to Woodbury in South Canterbury where Don established Deer Genetics NZ, an internationally recognised red deer trophy breeding and genetics business that he developed and grew with son Kelly.”

NZDFA producer manager Tony Pearse describes Don as the kaumatua of Deer Genetics, hugely knowledgeable, a big personality and a friend to many in the industry. “The NZDFA and DINZ extend their sympathy to Don’s widow, Anne, and their children and their spouses, Neena; Kelly and Felicia; Sarah and Wayne; Rebecca and Sam. Don will be greatly missed.”

Don and Anne Bennett at the 2015 Rising Stars competition where the Bennetts took away many of the hard antler trophies. Photo: Phil Stewart

Competition for seats on the DINZ Board: Five talented candidates are standing for a producer-nominated seat on DINZ Board. This follows the retirement of William Oliver who has been on the board since 2015. They are:

Amanda Bell, Otago. (Nominated Andy Macfarlane, seconded Adrian Campbell)
Sarah Paterson, Wellington (Nominated Edmund Noonan, seconded Grant Charteris)
Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Waikato (Nominated William Oliver, seconded Catherine Morrow)
Martin Rupert, South Canterbury (Nominated Chris Petersen, seconded Graham Peck)
Simon Wright, Southland (Nominated Bruce Allan, seconded David Stevens)

The successful nominee will be selected by the NZDFA selection and appointments panel before 1 July. The panel comprises the four members of the NZDFA executive committee plus two other farmers elected by NZDFA members. Candidates are invited to make a short presentation supporting their candidature at the NZDFA AGM in this year’s industry conference in Invercargill.  

That’s scheduled for 8.30 - 10.30 am on Tuesday 18 May at the conference venue, Bill Richardson’s Transport World Museum.

New science and policy appointment at DINZ: Emil Murphy will be joining the staff at DINZ on 3 May as the science and policy manager, filling the vacancy left earlier this year by Catharine Sayer.

The appointment marks a return for Murphy, who worked in the same role at DINZ on a parental leave secondment from January to August 2016. He’s already well acquainted with many of the issues facing the deer industry, not only through his earlier stint, but also through his roles at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

For the past two years he’s been the ministry’s principal adviser, meat. In addition to his food products-related roles he has had biosecurity-focused responsibilities, both as a senior policy adviser biosecurity readiness and response and, more recently, as MPI’s liaison manager, Mycoplasma bovis response.

Murphy has a degree from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. There will be a fuller profile in the June issue of Deer Industry News.

Planting time for trees: Deer thrive in an environment where there are trees. There are also some big incentives to get the less productive hillsides, gullies and riparian areas planted in trees for shade, shelter, biodiversity, soil protection and carbon … the list goes on. If you plan on planting, now’s the time to get the site preparation completed and – assuming soil moisture levels are OK – your trees in the ground.

DINZ Deer Fact: Make your native bush sing
DINZ Deer Fact: Trees for deer farms

Another Big Deer Tour: Eight university ag students – four each from Lincoln and Massey – have just enjoyed a full-on week of activity, getting to grips with the many dimensions of the deer industry.

This year the tour was based in Canterbury and Otago, hosted by industry partners across the region. Many thanks to:

  • Mountain River Venison, Rakaia
  • Provelco, Christchurch
  • Ara Institute of Canterbury (Hospitality and Service Industries Section)
  • Peel Forest Estate
  • Allan Agricultural Consultancy Ltd & Northbank Station, Rakaia
  • The Kowhai's Limited, Fairlie
  • Ben Dhu Station, Omarama
  • Mandy Bell, AgResourced Ltd, Wanaka
  • Alpine Deer Group, Luggate
  • AgResearch Invermay
  • Silver Fern Farms, Dunedin

The Big Deer Tour provides future rural professionals with a unique opportunity to get to meet our industry and really get to know what the deer industry has to offer. It recognises that deer farmers are increasingly seeking expert input into their decision-making to improve their productivity, profitability and environmental performance.

The tour group comprised Cameron Butterworth, Mikaela Carr, Zach Dewhurst, Izzy Hurst, Archie Woodhouse, Abbey Dowd, Amy Ashworth and Daniel Vaughan. The Big Deer Tour is part of the Passion2Profit programme, a Primary Growth Partnership co-funded by Deer Industry New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries.