The deer industry makes investments into farm systems and venison research through DEEResearch Ltd, a company owned by DINZ and AgResearch.  Most of the research funded by DEEResearch is medium-term in duration, in order to allow researchers to cast their net widely in search of information of wide application to venison production and processing.  A few research projects each year are short-term, highly applied projects that aim to bridge the gap between fundamental research and on-farm or in-plant application.  Applied research has typically covered on-farm and venison processing studies. 

Where possible, the deer industry co-invests in research of interest to all pastoral sectors through pan-sector research partnerships or co-commissioned projects, so as to achieve maximum leverage from external funds.  If topics are of interest to the deer sector alone, DEEResearch is more likely than other funders to commission the project.  In 2016/17, the principal recipient of DEEResearch funding is the Hitting Targets project undertaken by AgResearch, comprising work into integrated livestock farming management practices. Hitting Targets currently cover the following themes:

  • Feeding The sole current project is looking at the effects of swede fodder systems on deer health and reproduction and optimising their integration into deer production systems
  • Animal health is made up by projects looking at deer-specific administration routes and effective doses of drench, as well as development of a drench resistance test. Animals will also be bred with different CarLA (Carbohydrate Larval Antigen) phenotypes to  investigate if this influences parasitism and its clinical effects.
  • Genetics covers several projects, including Deer Progeny Test, Deerlink and DEERSelect, which continue to inform breeding values and traits. The genetics themed research also include projects to improve genomic prediction as well as projects to inform a more holistic approach, i.e evaluating sires for heritable attributes like health and seasonal productivity as well as production potential.
  • Environmental research covers practical demonstrations of options (including their benefits annd costs) to mitigate waterway damage and contamination from deer farming .and following the Invermay farm through its journey in setting and implementing a Land and Environment Plan. 

The current 5 year Science Strategy is available here.  Other document, including annual reports, can be found in the Publications section.

The following table sets out DEEResearch's 2016/17 programme and funding contributions.  Please contact the Science and Policy manager for more detail on any project or Hitting Targets sub-project.

DEEResearch 2016/17 programmeDINZ contribution($)AgResearch contribution ($)Other contribution ($)Total
Hitting Targets408,0001,333,00050,00066,630
Focus on farming45,000 21,630 0174,031
Over-wintering hinds on swede30,000 94,031 50,000[1]112,343
The relationship between behaviour, stress and productivity20,000 92,343 066,929
Anthelmintic resistance in farmed deer10,000 56,929 0276,810
Effective anthelmintic for deer50,000 226,810 0269,925
Does CaRLA influence parasitism in deer?50,000 219,925 096,682
Deer Progeny Test15,000 81,682 057,119
DeerSelect15,000 42,119 057,459
DeerLink15,000 42,459 064,028
CT scanning of carcass traits15,000 49,028 079,858
Tomorrow’s deer: genetics for the future15,000 64,858 0158,699
Project management30,000 128,699 0131,579
Methane and nitrous oxide management (Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium)35,000800,0002,270,000[2]3,105,000
Meat Research (causation of leg primal haemorrhaging)*19,000*In kind from processors19,000

[1] Landcorp Farming Ltd

[2] Beef+LambNZ, DairyNZ, Fonterra

[3]More if it funds meat research from core funding

* AgResearch likely to fund the 2016/17 project costs wholly from its ‘core’ funding i.e. not draw on DINZ’s funding commitment


While some outputs from DEEResearch can be applied in velvet production, our velvet focussed research is carried out under the oversight of Velvet Antler Research New Zealand (VARNZ) which is jointly owned by DINZ and AgResearch.  VARNZ looks for external funding opportunities and/or in-kind collaborations where deer industry and third party research objectives align.

The current research programme of VARNZ has been dominated by the RepaiRx project, which aims to commercialise the velvet industry-owned velvet extract protected by patents for its extraction process and its angiogenic properties.  

In October 2016 VARNZ decided to terminate the first-in-human study of RepaiRx at Middlemore hospital on account of insufficient patient throughput.  In 2016/17 the Board intends to identify the optimal pathway to commercialise RepaiRx with a view to raising the profile in key markets of velvet's functional properties. Other areas in the current programme include research into the functional properties of velvet, velvetting best practice, velvet country of origin traceability and other international collaborations to ensure the New Zealand Deer Industry continues to have access to world leading science capability.

2016/17 VARNZ programme
VARNZ 2016/17 programmeAnnual budget ($) 
Development of RepaiRx330,000This is the balance of funding approvals; unlikely to be spent in full.  Tasks in current year are to find suitable marketing partners for RepaiRx as natural health product
IP Costs20,000These are renewal fees for the two RepaiRx patents held around the world
Research to provide support for velvet's function in supporting healthy ageing (brain function)50,000Pending suitable project design and selection of Research provider
NZ-based velvet science researcher forum1,500Gathering of NZ velvet researchers to maintain knowledge and interest in velvet science
Fourth Antler Science and Product Technology Symposium15,000To cover a NZ velvet industry representative’s and a NZ velvet researcher’s attendance at a velvet research symposium in China
Isotopic Signature Test pilot (1)25,000Oritain geoisotopic testing trial to support the Korean Country of Origin programme
Post-velvetting pain trial (2)TBCComparison of pain in deer in immediate aftermath of velvetting between those velvetted as per NVSB procedures and those given long-acting pain relief
Post-velvetting wound healing processes (2)45,000Investigation into stem-cell mediated processes involved in post-velvetting healing
Information about the three research consortia that DEEResearch invests in.

DEEResearch Programme 2015/16

Details on DEEResearch's direction and investments in 2015/16 - including its Science Strategy for 2015-2020.

The programme was unveiled to DEEResearch stakeholders at the NZDFA Branch Chairs' meeting in Wellington on 14 October 2015.