Jason Archer deer conference for website

Setting targets with deer growth curves

AbacusBio consultant Jason Archer says deer farmers can set performance targets to boost financial benefits and deer growth curves are a good tool in helping them to plan and monitor progress.

Speaking to delegates at the Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ)’s annual conference, recently held in Dunedin, Jason’s key message was that, “if you fail to plan, essentially you’re planning to fail” in terms of maximising potential for returns.

Jason gave the presentation on behalf of the Passion2Profit (P2P) programme, funded by DINZ and the New Zealand government’s Primary Growth Partnership.

The P2P programme strives to transform the deer industry through market-led production and innovative venison marketing to drive greater profitability.

“A key approach towards achieving that is to develop and instil a cultural change,” Jason says.

“Ideally, we want to see a culture of setting targets and monitoring performance against them, in order to achieve planned results.”

In doing so, this offers a more targeted approach to maximise farm performance by identifying weaknesses such as forage base, animal health, or genetics, and enabling required changes – whilst also addressing limitations.

Deer growth curves based on industry data are available for farmers to customise based on farm and situation, enter schedule expectations, and develop financial analyses.

Working together with farmers Cameron and Amy Nicholson as part of an Otago advance party project, AbacusBio farm consultant Simon Glennie has been facilitating the use of deer growth curves to benchmark and plot weight gain performance of weaner deer.

The curves allow for effective monitoring and analysis, and as a result, weaner weights are already 2-3kg ahead this season compared to a similar time last season, Simon says.

Different scenarios and options are also available in a spreadsheet to drive effective decision-making.

Looking forward, DINZ chairman Andy Macfarlane says success in the deer industry would come from a culture of discipline and strong collaboration across the sector, in order to realise future opportunities.