DINZ news in brief 18 October 2019

DINZ news in brief 18 October 2019

Friday, October 18, 2019

Velvet markets steady: NZDFA branch chairs meeting in Wellington earlier this month were briefed on the state of the velvet market by DINZ Asia markets manager Rhys Griffiths and DINZ board member Tony Cochrane.
They said New Zealand’s reputation as a food producer and the quality of NZ velvet ensured that it had a strong reputation in both traditional and health food markets. However, they noted that demand will have to increase to absorb future production increases to maintain steady returns.
Last season, about 800 tonnes was exported, up from 700 tonnes the previous season. This year production is expected to lift again, a function of a growth in herd numbers, genetic improvement and better herd management.
While Griffiths and Cochrane were not predicting an easing of prices this season, they said there are headwinds facing the sector. They pointed to trade tensions between Japan and South Korea and the trade war between the US and China. Economic growth has slowed in South Korea the largest velvet market. Healthy food companies are cautious about their ability to absorb increasing NZ production.
For more information, talk to your NZDFA branch chair or your velvet buyer.

Image: Cheon Nuk Sam a leading healthy food product based on NZ velvet

Don’t touch the sticky: There are a few tricks to learn when using the new self-adhesive wristband velvet tags. Among them:

  • Don’t place the tags on wet surfaces or handle them with wet hands, or they may not stick. Have a towel or cloth handy to dry your hands before handling the tags.
  • Keep the sticky end of the tag clean, or it may not stick. Don’t touch the sticky end even if your hands are dry.
  • Leave a finger space between the stick and the tag, so the tag fits loosely around the stick. This will ensure the stick dries evenly during processing.
  • If the base of the antler beam is too large for the tag, fit the tag around the beam above the first tyne on the stick.
  • The tags may seem shorter than the old cable ties, but it’s an optical illusion. Your velvet is just bigger! But please don’t use the cable ties. Your velvet will need to be re-tagged if you do.

Avoiding tag breakage:

  • Avoid jabbing your thumbnail into the white tamper-evident portion of the tag (sticky-backed part with wavy perforations) when removing the backing tab. Doing this will make it hard to apply and look like the tag has been tampered with.
  • Remove the backing on the sticky patch carefully without putting uneven pressure on the tamper-evident perforations.

For more information, please check the “Hot tips” mailer recently posted by DINZ to all velvetters. Also, don’t forget that these tags are part of an industry-wide trial. If they work well, an improved version of the tags incorporating a UHF chip, better sticking and other changes is expected to be introduced in the 2020/21 season. The UHF tags will allow velvet to be tracked from the market to the farm and eliminate the paperwork currently associated with the sale of velvet.
If you have any questions about the tags, please contact your velvet buyer or DINZ QA manager John Tacon, Tel 021 242 2873.
Your audit is on its way: There are 814 deer farms with velvetting facilities registered with the National Velvetting Standards Body (NVSB). These are all subject to NVSB audit to ensure they comply with MPI’s Regulated Control Scheme (RCS) for velvet removal, storage and transport.
This year the NVSB has hired nine auditors to audit the remaining 248 facilities, along with a handful of sheds that failed past audits, as well as newcomers to the RCS. This will complete the three-year programme agreed with MPI for bringing all velvetting facilities in the industry up to the RCS standard. 
DINZ QA manager John Tacon praises farmers for the great work they have done on their sheds.  “There are some wonderful facilities out there. But we can’t relax our focus – your facilities need to be kept up to audit standard throughout the season.
“From next season MPI will be doing random audits that have regulatory teeth. MPI’s role is to ensure that all NZ food products meet high hygiene and food safety standards. They have the power to close a facility until it comes up to standard. It is a power that from time to time has been exercised in other industries, so don’t expect velvet to be an exception.”
From next season the NVSB will also be doing random audits of about 20% of sheds that are part of the RCS. They will also audit, without charge, facilities that are new to the scheme. If you haven’t yet had an RCS audit and would like to have one, please contact Pam MacLeman at DINZ 04 471 6114 or pam.macleman@deernz.org
Good news from the Environment Court on water allocation: Otago deer farmer Mandy Bell has drawn our attention to a decision by the Environment Court that may set a precedent when regional councils weigh competing interests when setting minimum river flows.
At issue were proposed limits for the Lindis River set by Otago Regional Council (ORC) of a minimum flow of 900 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1200 litres per second. Under the council’s existing regional water plan there are no low-flow limits on water takes. As a result of abstraction for irrigation, the river runs dry for protracted periods during summer at a number of places.
In a ruling released this week, Judge Jon Jackson set a minimum flow for the river of 550 l/s and a primary allocation of 1640 l/s, which are the limits proposed by the Lindis Catchment Group (LGC) which represents 33 Lindis and Ardgour Valley water users. A higher minimum flow of 900 l/s, advocated for by Fish & Game, other fishing interests and some local residents, was rejected.
DINZ environmental stewardship manager Lindsay Fung says the take-home messages for farmers from the ruling are that water takes are not just about quantity. “It’s also about the ecological impact of different takes, how efficiently irrigators use the water, where the water takes are located and how much is from groundwater,” he says.
Mandy Bell expects rural communities will watch with interest the discussions that will arise from this decision.
“All parties involved in water management, including Fish and Game, should be looking at catchment health in its entirety. This is not just about water takes and introduced fish numbers and habitat, but also water quality, native fish numbers and habitat, recreation and mahinga kai. People, communities, and businesses – along with farmers – all have an interest, as well as parts to play, in maintaining and improving the health of our waterways.”
The decision may be subject to appeal. Ref: Decision No. [2019] NZEnvC 166.

Image: The Lindis River, photo Otago Daily Times

Great production and environment: Maurice and Renee Judson, winners of Silver Fern Farm’s 2019 Plate to Pasture competition have increased their deer weaner weights from an average 52 kg to 57 kg and per hectare production by 24% in eight years.
''One of the things that really helped us with the award is we let the deer follow their natural habits,'' said Maurice. The deer are given a third to half a paddock per break on winter crop, to browse naturally. He said there was less paddock damage, and it reduced soil run-off into the gullies.
The couple manage the Wistaria Co's 1700 ha sheep, deer and cattle property at Clydevale, Otago. The property runs 750 mixed age Eastern European red hinds, 620 weaners and about 40 stags, 13,000 sheep and 240 cattle. They use Eastern European red deer for venison production and kill a large percentage of weaners for the European chilled market.

Nine years ago the Judsons started using artificial insemination and electronic identification over 100 selected hinds to breed high-growth maternal stags and to increase the genetic merit of their hinds, using data from Deer Select. Before taking this step a third of their weaners achieved killable weights before Christmas and two-thirds in the new year. Now three-quarters are killed from the first week of November to mid-December at an average carcase weight of 56 kg.
“It comes down to genetics and the challenge of feeding good genetics,” Maurice says.

Image: The Judson family: Lachlan, Ben, Renee, Kate,  and Maurice. Photo NZ Farmers Weekly

Sources: Southern Rural Life & NZ Farmers Weekly
Fine deer leather no longer 'viable': A tougher international market place has led Timaru tannery, NZ Light Leathers, to phase out the manufacture of finished deer leather. As a result, 32 staff have been made redundant.
''We have arrived at a point where, for reasons beyond our control, the production and export of our luxury product is no longer a viable option,” the company's chairman Gary Monk said in a statement.
He said Chinese tanners had cancelled orders for American deer skins in response to escalating tariffs imposed by the US. The diversion of American skins into Europe had resulted in the collapse of sustainable returns for high-end, NZ deer leather.
DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat says that New Zealand Light Leathers play an important part in adding value to the New Zealand deer industry and are very supportive of industry efforts to improve quality through the value chain.  The current low price of deer skins in the international market is reflected in the venison schedule.
Source: Otago Daily Times

Image: A range of deer leathers formerly produced by NZ Light Leathers.