DINZ news in brief 13 February 2020

DINZ news in brief 13 February 2020

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Parasite workshops now in your area: A series of deer parasite management workshops is now underway. The SI workshops, convened by Dave Lawrence, were expected to be completed this month, but some have been disrupted by the Southland floods. Look on the DINZ website for revised dates. The NI ones, convened by Pania Flint, run through March and April. Funding comes from the P2P programme, with assistance from the NZDFA and Ian Spiers Memorial Trust.

The workshops are designed to give vets and farmers a toolkit of parasite management options, based on experience of what does and does not work and the sustainability of different practices. The morning sessions are for vets. The afternoon sessions are for deer farmers and have a focus on practical parasite management.

Flint says lungworms and gut worms are significant health issues for deer. To manage them effectively, it helps to understand their lifecycles and where best to intervene

"A new deer drench is coming down the regulatory pipeline. When it arrives it will be a step forward, but it shouldn’t be seen as a silver bullet. The ideal is to manage our deer in ways that reduce the need for drenching,” she says.

“All deer farms will have some level of parasite contamination and it is neither desirable to allow this to get too high, nor to attempt to completely eradicate it. The challenge for each farmer is to achieve the right balance for their property."

For more information, including the location and dates for the workshops, click here. To register, please email or ring with your referred workshop location to rob.aloe@deernz.org, tel 04 471 6021.

Velvet extracts may be good for your heart: A study by AgResearch for velvet processor UB-Bio has shown that extracts made from deer velvet antler contain biologically active peptides that inhibit angiotensin l-converting enzyme (ACE). Stephen Haines, the lead researcher, says ACE inhibition is a good thing. “It results in lower blood pressure and improved cardiovascular health.”

The study involved the identification of thousands of peptides in deer velvet, using advanced analytical techniques at AgResearch Lincoln. These peptides were then compared with a database of peptides known to have biological activity. The major predicted activity was ACE inhibition.

This activity was then confirmed in laboratory trials in which the velvet extracts markedly reduced the activity of the enzyme – activity that was not reduced by simulated digestion. Haines says the findings point to a role for deer velvet in reducing blood pressure and improving heart health, although a well-designed human clinical study would be needed to confirm this.

DINZ funded the publication of the research findings in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal. Peptides are compounds made up of two or more amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

Board observer selected: DINZ chair Ian Walker says the board was pleased to get 12 applications for the new position of ‘board observer’ advertised in the December edition of DINZ eNews. The successful candidate was Rob Kidd, operations manager for Duncan NZ Ltd.

The observer role is for someone in the deer industry with an interest in assuming governance roles. Rob joins the DINZ board in an observer capacity for the remained of 2020, with a view to developing their governance skills and potentially standing for a governance position at the completion of their observer term.

Venison is a quality choice: DINZ has developed two brochures for the NZ market, explaining the dietary benefits of venison. The main one, targeted at nutritionists, is made up of five A4 pages of persuasive content, substantiated by a full page of scientific references. It includes a table comparing the key nutrients found in venison compared with other meats. This is based on NZ Food Composition Data and recommended daily intake values published by the Ministry of Health.

In summary, venison is much lower in fat (including saturated fat) than chicken, pork, beef and lamb; and higher in iron, selenium and zinc. These attributes, together with its great taste, make venison a excellent meal choice for everyone, including those on weight and cholesterol lowering diets, infants, older people and pregnant women

The second brochure is a brief summary of the key points for consumers, with a plug for “lots of great recipes” on www.nzvenison.com/recipes

Interested in deer R&D? There’s been a positive response to an item in December DINZ eNews about the new deer research steering groups being set-up by DINZ and AgResearch. These groups will shape and monitor deer-related research, from recommending what to commission, through to the monitoring of outputs and ensuring uptake. The groups will replace DEEResearch and VARNZ which are being wound up by their shareholders.

DINZ science and policy manager Catharine Sayer says it’s now time for people to put their hands up for selection as industry members of these groups. “If you are involved in the deer industry and interested in what research has to offer, this could be the role for you. It won’t be hugely time-consuming, but you are likely to find it very interesting.”

There are four portfolios. Members are being sought for the on-farm, post-farm and informed breeding decisions groups. The fourth group, environment, will be based on an existing committee that has industry and AgResearch representatives. If new members are needed for this, these will be called for later.

The existing Deer Select reference group will continue. Also an existing group dealing with parasitology will continue at least until October 2020, as several major parasitology projects are benefitting from this group's involvement. The long-term future of this group will be subject to review. In the meantime there will be close links between the existing and new steering groups.

Details on how the new groups will work are found here. Details of the selection process and how to apply are here. Industry members of the Deer Select reference and parasitology groups are welcome to apply to join one of the new groups and vice-versa. Please email the relevant information to catharine.sayer@deernz.org by Monday 17 February.

Jamie takes the lead: AgResearch scientist Jamie Ward (pictured) is stepping into some big shoes. After 24 years working at Invermay, he has been appointed as the agricultural systems scientist leading the AgResearch/DINZ deer research programme.

He takes over from Geoff Asher who has been leading the programme (‘Hitting targets’), based at Invermay, since Ken Drew retired in 2002. Both are recipients of the prestigious Deer Industry Award for their outstanding contributions to the deer industry. Asher, who is retiring, will continue to work with the deer research team as required and help Ward transition into his new role.

Ward has been a research associate in the Invermay farm systems team since 2003 and before that worked at Genomnz. He says his career highlights have been working on Deer Select, the Deer Progeny Test, and deer lactation studies. His current main research focus is on CARLA (immune response to ingesting infective-stage parasites), as well as the productivity and best-fit of breeding hinds in the farm system.

AgResearch has been advertising for a research associate to replace Ward.

TB outbreak in Hawkes Bay: Eight cattle herds on farms near the Napier-Taupo Road in Hawke’s Bay are under management by OSPRI following the detection of a cluster of bovine TB infections in the area. A further 15 herds were under investigation. Ospri expects some of these to have infected animals. Wildlife surveillance and DNA strain-typing indicates the source of infection is from wildlife north of the area.

Because TB has long been present in in Hawke’s Bay, there is already a livestock movement control area (MCA) in the region. This will be expanded on 1 March to include around 570 cattle and deer herds. Within this area all cattle and deer over 90 days of age must test clear of bovine TB within 60 days prior to being moved to another farm. Stock heading to a slaughter plant are exempt.

Ospri has brought forward TB testing for all dairy, beef and deer herds in the extended movement control area. There will also be increased surveillance testing in a buffer area outside the MCA. Infected animals will be slaughtered to remove the disease from herds and planned possum control operations will be brought forward. A field HQ is being set-up in Napier to manage operations.

NAIT and MPI hanging tough: The importance of making NAIT work is being brought home to cattle and deer farmers, many of whom are now being fined for not registering animals or animal movements.

NZDFA executive committee chair John Somerville urges deer farmers to complete their registration requirements and be accurate with their records. “It’s in our interests both as individual farmers and as an industry to have an effective animal traceability scheme.”

This month the NZDFA executive committee is meeting with Ospri, the organisation that runs NAIT, to discuss improvements to the NAIT system, and some practical issues that deer farmers have when trying to comply with the letter of some NAIT rules. Somerville says NAIT rules need to be practical for busy farmers but until those rules are changed they are the law, so to avoid being fined, it’s in the interests of farmers to comply.

DINZ policy manager Catharine Sayer says NAIT has taken on more staff to run the help desk and waiting times are much improved. MPI is also taking on more compliance staff, so if you have failed to comply – such as by not registering a tagged animal before putting it on the truck – MPI and NAIT will have a record of that. She says they have 250 enforcement files from December waiting to be processed by the new staff.

Consultation closes on proposed Cervena antibiotic standard: A proposal from Cervena licensees to introduce a ‘raised without antibiotics’ standard for Cervena venison has drawn cautious support from farmers. All deer farmers were sent a letter before Christmas outlining what a RWA standard would involve and asking for their feedback by 20 January. DINZ venison marketing manager Nick Taylor says he received many thoughtful submissions, including some warning of the danger that the standard may be misunderstood by farmers and in the marketplace.

The NZDFA executive committee made a detailed submission that, after carefully weighing the pros and cons, gave qualified support to the proposal. It said farmers and markets need to understand that antibiotics must be used from time-to-time in the productive farming systems that produce most of the stock eligible for Cervena.

“The markets don’t need to know the details of the diseases that may need to be treated, but we should never state that antibiotics are never used on NZ deer farms,” said the NZDFA.

The Cervena marketing companies will discuss the responses at a meeting later this month. If they decide to progress the proposal it will then be considered by Cervena Trust Ltd in consultation with the DINZ Board.

CWD proteins found in US whitetail deer semen: For the first time, the prion proteins that cause chronic wasting disease (CWD) have been detected in whitetail deer semen and related tissues. Most, but not all, of nine farmed deer that had tested positive for CWD using the gold-standard lymph node diagnostic test also had CWD prions present in their semen and related tissues using a new DNA-based test. The detection was made by a research team at the University of Texas, Colorado State University’s Prion Research Center and the USDA.

The scientists, led by Dr Carlos Kramm (pictured) stress that the transmissibility of the disease via semen is unknown and should be the focus of future research.  It is thought that CWD is most commonly spread through the exchange of saliva, such as when two deer are browsing on the same feed.

CWD has never been detected in New Zealand and the country has strict quarantine regulations designed to ensure it stays that way. Because it is contagious, fatal, incurable and persists in the environment, CWD would pose a major threat to the deer industry if it ever arrived here. Farmers and trophy hunting operators should not allow hunting or outdoor clothing or gear to be used on their properties if it has previously been used in North America.

Source: Wisconsin Public Radio

China disrupted, but still on the horizon: The recent outbreak in China of the novel corona virus has caused disruption to meat exports including venison. Many meat freezers there are full of product intended for consumption during the Chinese New Year, but left unsold because of disruption to sales caused by the outbreak.

DINZ venison marketing manager Nick Taylor says some customers have requested that their shipments be delayed until space becomes available. “There are significant delays to unloading at all ports, with many workers unable to get to their workplaces after the Chinese New Year holiday because of quarantine restrictions. Many restaurants remain closed because customers are staying at home. Supermarkets are open and deliveries of food to supermarkets are being prioritised by officials.”

MFAT, MPI and NZTE are holding weekly meetings to provide updates on the situation. DINZ will continue to attend these meetings and provide updates to the companies as relevant. NZTE have set up a website, www.nzte.govt.nz/coronavirus, that is being updated daily.  

The Chinese government has temporarily banned the trade of wild animals. As a result some New Zealand venison customers have asked for additional verification that New Zealand venison is farmed. DINZ has contacted MPI and will work with them to provide suitable evidence. Venison exports to China have been increasing and in 2019 made up approximately 10% of NZ venison exports. 

As the situation is rapidly evolving it is not known what the long-term impact on exports will be. But at this stage DINZ expects to continue to work with companies to promote NZ venison in China once the crisis subsides.

“One of our key projects is research into how NZ venison can fit into traditional Chinese cuisine styles. There are eight distinct culinary styles in China and some of those styles are more suited to venison-based products than others. This research will help New Zealand marketers understand where New Zealand can fit into different Chinese cuisines, and develop appropriate resources for particular cuisine styles,” Taylor says.

Industry pioneer dies: Goodwin McNutt, the first person to capture a live deer from a helicopter in New Zealand (on 16 December 1966), has died. McNutt was the pilot and Barry Stern the bulldogger. Deer farming was illegal at the time, but McNutt had the Forest Service’s permission to keep deer in confinement to study, so he began capturing live animals. By 1969, when deer farming was legalised, he had 75 animals behind wire that he had caught or been given.

McNutt was profiled in the February and April 2008 editions of Deer Industry News (search ‘Goodwin McNutt’ on www.deernz.org). The photo shows McNutt (left) with hunting companions at their camp in Kaimanawa Forest Park in the 1950s.