DINZ news in brief 19 December 2019

DINZ news in brief 19 December 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Velvet prices ease: Concerns about the increasing supply of velvet has meant some importers were reluctant to commit to orders early in the season, says DINZ marketing manager Rhys Griffiths. This is despite fundamental indicators remaining strong in key markets.

Exporters have worked hard to hold prices at levels similar to past seasons, but many of them believe the supply and demand relationship is more balanced than it has been for several seasons. “After a decade of reasonable increases in prices and volumes, prices appear to have eased to levels similar to what was achieved the season before last. Last season, prices went up more than most expected, so this could be seen as a bit of a correction. This confirms what we always knew, that the growth in market demand is not limitless,” Griffiths says.

Early in the season some buyers held off from taking a price position. Now most have come into the market, but are taking a cautious approach – committing to smaller volumes than at the same time last year.  


Talking worms in your town: Deer vets Dave Lawrence and Pania Flint will be leading a series of 12-13 parasite management workshops around the country in February & March. The workshops will help lay the groundwork for the hoped-for release of a new deer drench later in 2020. The drench combines the three main drench families in a single oral formulation. The workshops are being run with funding from the P2P programme, the NZDFA and Ian Speirs Trust.

Flint says the new drench shouldn’t be seen as a silver bullet. “It should be one of the tools in the parasite management toolkit. To delay the eventual onset of resistance it will still be important to use farm management techniques that are known to reduce the parasite challenge,” she says. The drench is being taken through the registration process and commercialised by Nexan, a NZ-based animal health company. Its name has yet to be released. Look for a schedule of workshop dates in the January issue of DINZ eNews, Stagline OnLine and on the DINZ website.

Image: Lungworms revealed in a post-mortem


New DINZ board role, ‘Observer’: The DINZ board is offering someone with an interest in taking a leadership role in the deer industry the chance to be a board observer for 12 months, starting on 26 February.  

This is a new role, intended to help the observer with their personal and professional development. During the year, the observer will have the opportunity to attend training at the Institute of Directors at DINZ expense.

A selection committee of two DINZ board members and two from the NZDFA Selection and Appointment Panel will assess expressions of interest. A shortlist of candidates will then be interviewed by telephone in the first week of February, with an appointment made on or about 8 February. For more information, including the selection criteria, go here >> Submit applications c/o DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat, innes.moffat@deernz.org, tel 021 465 121. Applications close 24 January.

Image: DINZ board members front at the 2018 Deer Industry Conference  

Like to help drive deer research? If you’re interested in what research has to offer the deer industry, here’s a role you might like to consider. It won’t be hugely time-consuming, but it’s bound to be interesting.

DINZ is looking for candidates to sit on two of four steering groups that will shape and monitor aspects of deer-related research and delivery. The two groups will deal with on-farm and post-farmgate research relating to velvet, venison or co-products. Volunteers are not being sought for the two other groups – genetic improvement and environment – as they have existing reference groups whose roles will be expanded.

Each group will be led by a DINZ rep and an AgResearch scientist, with input from up to eight individuals across the sector who have good knowledge of, and connection with, the industry.  Other people with relevant expertise, such as additional scientists, can be invited to attend from time to time as the group sees fit. Note that the Deer Industry Parasitology Group will continue as-is for the time being.

If you’re selected, you’ll meet twice a year, have some teleconferences in between, get to specify research priorities and review research proposals and reports. You don’t need a science background to participate. You just need to be able to take part in robust discussions about the value that research can add to our industry and how relevant research findings should be rolled out. Interested? Contact DINZ science and policy manager Catharine Sayer, catharine.sayer@deernz.org, tel 04 471 6116, for more information.  More details will be provided in DINZ eNews in January.

DEEResearch and VARNZ to go: The two DINZ/AgResearch joint venture companies that have been the management and funding vehicles for research in the deer industry since the 1990s are to be wound-up. Instead, DINZ will directly fund and commission research, with AgResearch as the preferred but not only provider.

Catharine Sayer says the aim is, together with the establishment of four research steering groups, to get greater industry engagement in research planning and delivery. “There will be a basic premise that if we commit to a research project and something good comes out of it, that both the research provider and DINZ will also be committing themselves to delivering it to the industry when it is completed.”

Levy increase for traceability and environment: The DINZ board has increased the velvet levy to farmers by 5 c/kg to a total $3.25/kg for the 2019/20 season. The funds are needed to develop the new velvet traceability database and increased auditing of the MPI Regulatory Control Scheme (RCS).

“Traceability and regulatory compliance are vital for the credibility of our velvet with the healthy food companies that have done so much to boost velvet demand in recent years,” says DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat. “When MPI starts auditing the RCS in 2020, we want to be as good as we can be. That’s what our customers will be expecting of us.”

The DINZ venison levy for the 2019-20 season has increased by 1 c/kg to 19 c/kg (split equally between farmers and processors) to fund more environmental support for farmers.


Sire sale record smashed: The 2019/20 sire sale season has opened with a hiss and a roar, highlighted by the sale of a trophy genetics stag for a record-smashing $390,000 by Crowley Deer on 14 December. The 3-year-old son of Rockafella is a half-brother to a 5-year-old stag sold last year by Crowley for $155,000, then a record for a stag sold at auction. The rest of Crowley’s offering also sold well, with the 12 sires sold averaging $51,500 and a small group of yearling hinds averaging $9400.

The sale was one of eight held in December. The opening sale of the season, for Peel Forest Estate’s maternal Forrester venison sires, saw the entire offering of 55 stags sold for an average of $10,118, 35% up on last year’s average.

Wilkins Farming also had a complete clearance for its North Island sale, with averages up 13% to $8177. Forest Road Farm, hosting its third annual sale, was another to enjoy a boost in average prices. All 19 of the 3-year-old velvet sires on offer went under the hammer for an average of $7200 and a top price of $19,000.

The sire selling season resumes on 12 January with sales at Peel Forest Estate and Deer Genetics, and winds up on 23 January with elk/wapiti sire sales at Edendale Wapiti and Raincliff Station.

The February 2020 Deer Industry News will carry a complete sire sale report for the season.

Calling deer farming women: The lack of women among industry office-holders was remarked upon at the 2019 deer industry conference. For women in the industry who want to make a bigger contribution to their farm business, the wider industry or organisations in their community the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) can help.

Most AWDT programmes are open to any woman involved in primary industry, including one tailored for wahine whenua. The most advanced programme, Escalator, is by selection. If you are interested in one day putting your name forward for industry office, NZDFA endorsement is likely to assist your Escalator application. To apply for endorsement and a possible study grant, contact the NZDFA Communications and Adminitration Coordinator Rebecca Norling, tel 04 471 6110 or rebecca.norling@deernz.org

The Trust is calling now for registrations for the six programmes it will be offering in 2020. All but two are held in the regions. Details here >>

Antibiotic-free Cervena? All known deer farmers have been sent a letter asking for their views about a possible change to the Cervena® Venison supply standards that would enable marketers to claim that Cervena is “raised without antibiotics (RWA)”. At present they cannot do this, because we don’t have a system to prove this to regulators like the US Department of Agriculture.

DINZ venison marketing manager Nick Taylor says he’s had a handful of responses to the letter, and he would welcome more. All feedback will be collated and used to inform the decision whether or not to go ahead with the change. This decision will be made by Cervena Trust Limited in consultation with the DINZ board. Please contact Nick on 04 471 6119 or nick.taylor@deernz.org by 20 January, or discuss the proposal with your venison company representative.


Ian Stewart retires: Long-serving venison industry personality Ian Stewart has retired as general manager of Mountain River Processors. Stewart began in the industry in the 1960s working as a labourer at the Mossburn DSP, working his way up to become general manager of the plant in 1987.

His involvement in Mountain River started in the 1990s, when the company emerged from a purchase of Northbank Station and its venison processing plant by Doug Hood Group. Stewart has always had a strong affinity for China and Mountain River was the first NZ venison plant to receive official listing from that country. He says he is proud of the way the company has developed an integrated pasture-to-plate operation, with Northbank supplying deer, processed with an emphasis on specialty cuts.

Stewart has been succeeded as general manager of Mountain River Processors by Kerry Whiting.

There’s more about Stewart’s retirement in December Deer Industry News, which is now in the mail. Click here for a tribute to Ian by his Mountain River colleagues.


Image: Ian Stewart (left) with Mary Hood (chair, Doug Hood Limited) and Kerry Whiting, who has taken over as general manager of Mountain River Processors

DINZ looking for farm performance manager: With the appointment of former P2P manager Innes Moffat as DINZ chief executive, a new role has been created and some existing roles have been reshaped at DINZ. Overall staff numbers are unchanged.

The new role, manager farm performance, will pick-up the on-farm components of the Passion2Profit programme (formerly part of Moffat’s role) and lead the development of some of DINZ’s farmer services. This position is now being advertised with a view to making an appointment early in 2020.

Rhys Griffiths, formerly market manager (Asia), a role that mainly had a velvet focus, is now manager markets, with the overview of all industry products. On venison he will work closely with venison marketing manager Nick Taylor, who now also manages the marketing premium venison component of the Passion2Profit programme. 

Deer pioneer dies: Former Te Teko, Eastern Bay of Plenty, deer farmer George Johnston (pictured) has died aged 83. A keen hunter, he set up one of the country’s first feral venison recovery chillers and one of the first deer farms. He then became involved in velvet marketing and later established a safari hunting business.

In the Bay of Plenty Times his son Heyden Johnston described George as "one of the last of a breed of real Kiwi blokes, a good keen man in every sense."

More >>


Merry Christmas: From all of us at DINZ: board members, staff and contractors, come our very best wishes for the festive season. Thank you for your support in 2019. It has been an eventful and at times unsettling year, largely due to new and proposed legislation that is likely to change the face of farming forever. What it won’t change are the wonderful animals we farm and the fantastic products they produce.

Take time this summer to relax, enjoy good friends and family, and return in 2020 refreshed and raring to go. The DINZ team will be doing the same. The office will be closing on 24 December and reopening on Monday 6 January. We look forward to working with you in the year ahead.