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Deer industry pushes for growth

The agricultural consultancy team at AbacusBio is calling for more deer farmers to be part of the increasingly popular advance parties initiative by Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ).

Advance parties are small groups of farmers working together – sharing their productivity challenges and coming up with answers – with the ultimate goal of improving business performance.

“The main purpose is to inspire change for increased profitability by sharing knowledge and demonstrating effective deer farming methods or technologies,” AbacusBio farm consultant Simon Glennie says.

The advance parties were developed following a 2012 review, which showed that average fawning rates and carcass weights had been static for more than 20 years.

Simon also acknowledges that “there is a widening gap between average and top performers in the deer industry, which has been attributed to the lack of technology adoption among farmers.”

“Advance parties are a new way to change this behaviour by encouraging farmers to work together, learn, and share different techniques in a group, and their effect on profitability.”

Each advance party focuses on particular areas, ranging from animal health and nutrition, to velvet production and supplementary feeding.

A group of nine participant farms within the Otago region have come together to form a party group, focusing on reproductive efficiency and weaner growth performance.

Even within the broader topic area of reproductive efficiency, the Otago advance parties also explored issues such as genetics, R2 year old hind performance, autumn grain feeding, pre and post rut weaning options in different systems, leptospirosis, Johne’s disease, calf wastage, fencing, stocking rates, as well as optimal use of irrigation and wintering systems.

Participant farmers have benefitted in many ways from both the shared input from experts and direct access to recent and past work.

“Farmers don’t just benefit from the insights they get from their peers, being part of a group with fellow farmers has also increased their confidence levels in discussing management implications and exploring new ideas.

Consequently, farm system changes are implemented at a much faster rate,” AbacusBio consultant Jason Archer says.

By sharing the results with the wider deer farming community, the New Zealand deer industry can stand to reap growth benefits as a whole such as through increasing deer velvet export sales.

The information is available to all, but a lot of the benefits come from being part of the process and discussion, so we urge more farmers to participate in this well-received initiative.

For more information, or to express interest in joining and organising a new advance party group, visit www.ap.org.nz or www.deernz.org