DINZ news in brief 20 December 2018

DINZ news in brief 20 December 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Record price for a stag sold at auction? It may or may not be a record price but an unnamed 5-year old son of Nixon (pictured) was bought by Duncan Fraser, Mount Cecil for $155,000 earlier this month. 
 
Vendor Todd Crowley says we shouldn’t get too carried away with the price given the age of the stag. He says there are a few stags around the country that could have reached a similar price if they’d been catalogued. But he had a very good sale overall with an average of $30,136 for 11 stags and was very pleased with the top price. This mirrors the experience of other breeders across the country who are reporting good prices and clearances. 

Our list of record prices for 2-year old stags sold at auction is as follows: 

  • $124,000 set in 1990 when Clive Jermy sold a Yugoslavian stag, Bilje, to an Australian buyer. 
  • $142,000 set in Jan 2001 when the Mitchells (Rodway) sold a stag to Deer Genetics, who named him Motsumi.
  • $142,002 set in Jan 2002 when Raroa sold Banks to Bob Atkinson (75% Warnham/25% Woburn). Record set thanks to a sympathetic auctioneer squeezing out an extra 2 bucks.

So we believe Raroa still holds the record for a 2-year old stag at auction, but are happy to have the list expanded upon by anyone who has a good (and accurate) memory. 
 
New velvet tags being investigated: DINZ is looking at whether there are better ways to tag velvet. Science and policy manager Catharine Sayer says the existing nylon NVSB tags are prone to breaking after freezing, so DINZ is looking at what else could do the job.
 
“While we are at it, we’ll see if we can add value. There may be a system that’s hard to counterfeit and provides accurate trace-back to the farm in response to a food safety or biosecurity event,” she says.
 
“Accurate recording of tagged velvet movements could assist those in the supply chain with their inventory management. There are also opportunities to use tags to deliver better branding for New Zealand velvet and guarantee regulatory compliance of exported product.”
 
Sayer emphasises that the benefits of improvements must be greater than the cost. Options being considered are tags with barcodes and UHF chips in both wristband and cable-tie formats.
 
Photo: Ross Chambers
 
The dream – no recording, no paperwork: In an ideal world all velvet would be captured on a cloud-based system, says Catharine Sayer. “This would be designed to work in conjunction with the Regulated Control Scheme and NVSB system. Vets would continue to allocate tags to eligible velvetters and the buyer or agent would scan tagged velvet on arrival at their premise after pick-up from the farm.
 
“Draft VSDs containing all the tag and transaction information would be generated by the system for completion by farmers. Unless they want to record tag numbers for their own purposes, farmers wouldn’t have to do any tag recording or scanning). There would be no more entering things on paper – farmers could complete VSDs and see their velvet transfers using a smartphone app at a time convenient to them.”
 
Sayer says it’s at the concept stage at present, with several different physical tag options undergoing testing. If the DINZ board gives its OK to a better tag type and sees value in a more sophisticated system, it will consult with the wider industry before going ahead with development.
 
Keen demand for environmental help: Phil McKenzie, the co-ordinator of the new Deer industry environment groups (DIEGs), says two groups have already been set-up in Hawkes Bay and one in the Geraldine district of South Canterbury. There’s also interest from farmers in Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Canterbury and the Waimate district of South Canterbury.
 
“The idea was announced only three months ago, so I’m really pleased with the pick-up we’ve had. In addition, the existing Gisborne Advance Party has decided it wants to solely focus on environmental matters for the next 12 months,” McKenzie says.
 
The groups are funded by the P2P programme with the aim of helping farmers improve their environmental performance through a mix of mutual support and professional guidance. There are between five and eight farms in each group, with a paid facilitator and a farmer chair. The groups have a single focus, such as helping members write and/or implement their Farm Environmental Plans.
 
Interested in setting up a DIEG, or joining one? Contact Phil on phil@changeforgood.co.nz or Tel 0274 997 809.
 
Birth year is important: After tagging this year’s crop of fawns don’t forget to register them with NAIT as soon as the job’s completed. It’s a legal obligation to do this before the animals first move from the farm or by six months of age, whatever comes first. 
 
DeerPRO project manager Solis Norton says the birthdate field for newly registered tags entering the NAIT system now has an automatic default value. For the 2018/19 season it is 1 December 2018 to cater for all fawns born this season. This means farmers don’t need to manually enter a birth date. When older animals that have lost their tags are retagged, the original birth date will automatically be applied to the new tag.
 
“Having accurate birth year information will be hugely useful,’” he says. “Productivity measures in DeerPRO venison reports, like growth rates and average kill dates, will be specific to only those deer born the previous spring. They’re currently estimated for the ‘under 3’ category of deer.”
 
Also, over time, DINZ will get a better picture of the age structure of the national herd. For example it will enable venison marketers to guarantee that Cervena animals are no more than 3 years of age, and could prove to be crucial in the event of an exotic disease outbreak.
 
When a farmer is QA-audited by their marketing company – which will be required of all farmers producing deer for premium Cervena markets from 1 October 2019 -- the auditor may check that deer are recorded on the NAIT database. For its part, NAIT has stepped up its compliance checks in the wake of the Mp bovis outbreak.
 
Progress with Deer Select: A breeding value (BVs) for the immune response to parasites and the ability for farmers to compare individual wapiti and reds on the basis of their growth and meat BVs may be the result of work now underway for Deer Select, the industry’s genetics database. 
 
Manager Sharon McIntyre says, “We have research BVs for nine herds that have been measuring CARLA in 10 month old deer. These are measures of antibody levels in saliva in response to the intake of infective internal parasite larvae. A high CARLA score reflects lower parasite burdens in sheep, but this has yet to be confirmed in deer. We hope to know one way or another following completion of a new trial beginning in 2019.” 
 
Also, researchers have developed an across-breed meat module and in 2019 will be developing one for growth. Relative economic values for the different traits will also be developed.
 
“If we have sufficient genetic links across the breeds – through crossbreeding in recorded herds – it will be possible for farmers to directly compare the genetic merit of individual wapiti and red stags.
At the moment, wapiti can be compared only with other wapiti and reds with other reds.”

She reminds farmers breeding their own replacement hinds that the stags used this season will impact on productivity and profitability for the next 8-12 years through the performance of retained daughters.
 
“For many farmers, a stag is not just about spring carcase weights or mature velvet weights. Deer Select offers BVs for a range of traits from early conception, to meat yields, to mature hind weights. Choose stags with the right genetic profile for your herd.”
 
Lungworm in a deer. Researchers are looking at whether deer with high CARLA BVs have lower parasite burdens
 
Handling focus in latest Deer Facts:  The December issue of Deer Industry News includes two Deer Facts: ‘Effective deer handling’ and ‘Preparing deer for transport’.
 
These Deer Facts are targeted at students, trainees, new employees and to other people who may have experience with sheep and cattle, but are new to deer. While much of their content will be familiar territory for experienced deer managers, it won’t do any harm to check them out!
 
More ECan paperwork for farmers: Environment Canterbury (ECan) has developed an Excel-based spreadsheet template to make it easier for farmers to comply with the latest change to the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (PC5). It goes into effect on 1 February. All Canterbury deer farmers were emailed by DINZ earlier this week, explaining what’s required.
 
Carolyne Latham of Latham Ag Consulting is a farm environment consultant who has worked with a number of Canterbury deer farmers. She encourages deer farmers to try the template out at http://www.canterburywater.farm/fep
 
Alliance opens new Southland venison plant: The Alliance Group’s new $15.9 million Lorneville venison processing plant has been opened by the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. The venison plant, which began processing in September 2018, shares a site with the Alliance sheepmeat processing plant, one of the largest industrial operations in New Zealand, employing almost 2000 people at peak capacity. In 2012 Alliance built a $8.6 m venison plant at its Smithfield operation in Timaru. Earlier this year, Silver Fern Farms opened its new $7 m plant and cold storage upgrade at Pareora, south of Timaru.
 
Have a wonderful festive season: 2018 has been another good year for most people involved in farming deer and those who market our industry’s wonderful products. Pat yourself on the back and savour your good fortune this festive season. You deserve it.
 
The DINZ office closes for the holiday break on Friday 21 December and re-opens on Thursday 3 January. We look forward to being of service to all in the industry in the new year.
 
AgResearch joins the festive fun: The public has been asked to look out for signs of stress in Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve. In a tongue-in-cheek media release AgResearch has advised that the hard-working animals will need regular rest breaks, and access to water.
 
AgResearch deer researcher Jamie Ward says a major concern is the nutrition available to the reindeer on their busiest night.
 
“The risk is that high energy offerings left out for the reindeer owner could be eaten by the reindeer themselves. The reindeer have come from a Northern Hemisphere winter consuming a low energy winter diet and high energy food could cause acidosis. If people want to leave something out for the reindeer, our suggestion would be to leave some delicious lichen – it’s what they eat in the wild during winter,” he says.