Deer pic

New apps for the deer industry

Calling all deer farmers: do you know how many terminal sires to use on your hinds? How growth affects fertility in your replacements? Or have you wanted to experiment with different drafting weights in your venison animals?

To put a new spin on answering these age-old questions, Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) has developed three web-based applications.

The applications will help deer farmers investigate many different scenarios and “what-ifs” based on various system tweaks, in order to optimise outcomes.

AbacusBio consultant Jason Archer developed a lot of the science behind the web-based calculations, which were originally utilised in spreadsheet form. But they have recently been brought to life on the Internet.

“Spreadsheets are great if we only want to test one or two things at a time,” says colleague Nicola Dennis, who converted the spreadsheets into web form, alongside Jude Sise and IT consultant Mark Teviotdale.

“The apps essentially allow us to test a whole range of variables within a few seconds. They are also swift and easy to use.”

Farmers can enter a few key details, such as the number of hinds or target liveweight of growing animals, and quickly are able to see how this affects farm results.

“These are useful decision tools for deer farmers and also an innovative way to communicate what can be some pretty complex science,” Jude remarks.

“People start off by modelling their own farms, but often stay longer to play with all the controls to see how they affect the bigger picture.”

The applications were developed as part of the Passion2Profit programme, a Primary Growth Partnership co-funded by DINZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries. They can be accessed through the DINZ website at www.deernz.org.

“As well as these desktop strategic planning tools, AbacusBio is also working with DINZ to create phone-based mobile calculators that can be used offline whilst in the paddocks or yards,” Jason adds.

These calculators are intended to be simple but useful to deer farmers. The first one to be released will focus on comparing the costs of supplementary feeds. Beyond this, we are looking for feedback as to what other calculators deer farmers would find valuable.

If you have any ideas, please feel free to email Jason at jarcher@abacusbio.co.nz.