DINZ news in brief 23 August 2019

DINZ news in brief 23 August 2019

Friday, August 23, 2019

Keen ag students with deer on their minds: DINZ and the NZ Deer Farmers Association have just hosted four keen ag students on Future Deer Farmers Experience 2019, a whistlestop tour of our exciting industry.  

The four students were selected from 16 applicants. They were Mckenzie Bird, a certificate in agriculture student at Telford; Chief Whakaue, a Smedley Station cadet; Kate Goodson, a rural technology student specialising in deer at Waikato Institute of Technology; and Maddy Calder, a level 4 Primary ITO trainee based in Cromwell.

Convenor Rob Aloe says the tour – the second to be held – was once again a great success, thanks to the involvement of industry partners and the enthusiasm of the students. They visited velvet processors UB Bio; Mt Hutt Station, Methven; Mountain River Venison; Downlands Deer Transport; Rupert Red Deer, Peel Forest; NZ Light Leathers; Haldon Station, Mackenzie; and The Kowhais, Fairlie. They also attended the 2019 NZDFA Next Generation workshop.

Applicants needed to be studying toward a diploma or certificate in agriculture or farm management, or have attended a deer husbandry course. University degree students have their own event, The Big Deer Tour, held in April each year. 

Image: The Future Deer Farmers Experience tour party at the Talbot Forest Cheese shop where they sampled deer milk cheeses

Best-practice winter management: DINZ is getting two industry groups to take a close look at winter management of deer. These initiatives, which were planned before the minister of agriculture Damien O’Connor announced a task force looking at livestock winter feeding, reflect the fact that good winter feeding practice is vital for the health, welfare and productivity of deer, as well as for the environment.

P2P deer feeding group member Jason Archer is leading a workshop involving farmers, animal nutritionists, veterinarians and environmental stewardship specialists. The workshop will address the issue from an industry-wide perspective and look at how the industry might assist individual farmers to identify winter management practices that are suitable for different farming systems. Archer says a majority of deer farmers are doing an excellent job of wintering deer – the challenge is to find ways to ensure this happens on all deer farms. Some changes will be needed to currently accepted practices because of the changing environment in which the industry operates.    

The second workshop will involve a cross section of interested farmers, facilitated by Deer Industry Environment Group coordinator Phil McKenzie. It will look at winter management opportunities from a farmer’s point of view. The workshop will identify what good wintering practice looks like, what it doesn’t look like and how to encourage the adoption of best practice on all farms.

Deer Tech Expos popular: Twenty companies shared new technology and good farming practice with about 70 farmers at the Deer Tech Expo in Feilding earlier this month. This was the fourth such Expo and the first in the North Island – two of the previous ones were held in Gore and the other in Ashburton.

DINZ P2P manager Innes Moffat says the Expo concept was developed with the NZDFA. Its branches play an essential role in the organisation of each event. “The format is appealing as we can get a lot of information specific to deer in one day.”  

At the Feilding Tech Expo he says farmers were able to listen to presentations on topics of interest and then have detailed discussions with technical experts. Popular sessions included parasite management, soil health, electronic recording systems and genetic selection.

Central Regions NZDFA chair Tony Gray and his branch are looking forward to holding a similar event in the future. DINZ will work with other NZDFA branches to hold more deer-specific technical sessions in the coming year.




Tb-free pioneer steps down: Long-time NZDFA stalwart Malcolm Gilbert has retired as Canterbury Tb-free committee chair after 15 years in the role. He says the committee has helped grow awareness of wildlife disease vectors and their potential to spread Tb rapidly.

Gilbert, who farms deer and goats in North Canterbury, first became involved in Tb control in 1992 as a member of the Canterbury regional animal committee. At the time voluntary farmer vector control groups encouraged herd owners to manage and control pests on their own properties.

The farmers persuaded the then Animal Health Board to research the role of the large ferret population in North Canterbury in the spread of Tb. In 2000 the AHB planned a regional ferret control strategy. Livestock infections fell as more farmers killed vectors and promoted Tb management in their areas.

“There used to be 167 infected herds in our region,” says Gilbert, “so we’ve progressed. Still, it’s important not to forget the hard times so that the younger generations stay on track.”  

Source: Rural News Photo: The Deer Farmer, 2004


Tb surveillance without on-farm testing: A pilot Tb surveillance programme that does not involve on-farm testing is shaping up well, says OSPRI head of disease management Kevin Crews. It has been underway since the roar in four regions with low TB-risk: Northland, Auckland, Gisborne and Taranaki.

This risk-based testing (RBT) is modelled on what Australian authorities did in the final stages of their Tb eradication programme. It relies on post-mortem carcass and viscera inspection by MPI staff in venison plants and full compliance with NAIT rules by farmers. “That’s the trade-off for farmers: an end to on-farm Tb-testing in return for scrupulous compliance with NAIT. Accurate recording of animal movements is essential for this to work.”

NAIT has phoned the 120-odd farmers in the pilot to make sure they have re-registered with NAIT as is required for all farmers. “Nearly all have been very co-operative, because they can see the benefits.”

Crews says the RBT pilot has been discussed with market access regulators, none of whom have raised concerns. On-plant refresher courses on recognising TB lesions at post mortem inspection have been run for MPI meat inspectors and all aspects of the NAIT recording system are being reviewed.

“If we are confident that the RBT regime infrastructure is rock-solid, we plan to roll it out in vector-free areas of the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Southland in 2020. In those parts of these regions where there is still a vector-risk, on-farm testing will still be required.”

Pig biosecurity alert an apt reminder: The pork industry has gone on high biosecurity alert in response to news of an apparent outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in the Philippines. The disease, which has been catastrophic for the pig industry in China and elsewhere, is easily spread on soiled clothing, footwear and equipment, and in pork products. 

NZ Pork is reminding all pig farmers to review their biosecurity plans and recommends that staff and visitors should stay away from pigs for at least five days after returning from overseas – especially from a country known to have ASF infection.

DINZ chief executive Dan Coup says ASF is a totally different disease to chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer, but in both cases the disease organism persists in the environment for long periods. Also both industries are only one degree of separation from places where disease may be present. The pig industry employs many workers from the Philippines. In the deer industry’s case many farmers, hunters, backpackers and tourists visit New Zealand from North America and vice-versa.

“DINZ strongly recommends to deer farmers that they should not permit clothing, boots or outdoor equipment to be brought onto their farm or trophy block if it has been used overseas, especially in North America where CWD is spreading rapidly in wild and farmed deer herds,” Coup says. 

There is excellent information about on-farm biosecurity on the Beef+Lamb website here >> This covers exotic diseases which have never reached New Zealand, as well as everyday threats like Johne’s, bovine Tb, drench resistant parasites, and noxious weeds.

Where does P2P go next? The Passion2Profit programme is funded through until 2022.  Advance Parties, Environment Groups and the technical workshops for deer farmers and rural professionals will all continue after that date if there is the demand.

An aspect of the business of farming deer that the P2P team is considering is the integration of the different management themes that affect deer farming performance. Lots of farmers do business planning well, it can be an important component of achieving farming goals and helps prioritise the increasing demands that are being placed on business managers. 

P2P manager Innes Moffat says “We’re asking if there is a role for DINZ in this area to support the services offered by existing providers and what that support might look like.” 

South Otago deer farmers take out Plate to Pasture Award: Deer farmers Maurice Judson and Renee Judson are overall winners of the 2019 Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Award. They were presented with the award at the co-operative's annual conference in Christchurch on July 30.

The Judsons manage Wistaria Company, a 1700 hectare deer and sheep farm, near Clydevale, for Dr David Ivory, a soil and plant scientist, who is based in Thailand. They farm 750 mixed-age Eastern European red hinds, 600 rising one-year deer and finish all their progeny. They also farm 10,000 composite ewes and 3000 ewe hogget replacements.

The key to the Judsons' successful venison operation is an intensive AI programme, where they focus on using the best genetics to breed high growth-rate animals. "In the past seven to eight years we've focused on breeding heavier deer, which has enabled us to bring our kill date forward and hit the German game season," Maurice said. By killing more deer earlier in the season, the Judsons are also achieving higher premiums for their deer.