DINZ news in brief 24 March 2020

DINZ news in brief 24 March 2020

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Venison processing an essential service: Farmers, processing plants, and key elements of the supply chain that support farming and processors, will be considered “essential services” during the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown. This begins at 11.55 pm on Wednesday night and will last at least four weeks.

The deer and wider red meat industries can therefore have confidence that animal welfare will be prioritised, animals can be processed, and that we can continue to supply our export markets.

DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat cautions that the 'essential business' status is a privilege and can be removed by government if it considers that companies and people are not doing enough to ensure the spread of the disease is limited.

“All suppliers to primary production businesses must ensure they too play their part in avoiding transmission. Transport operators, rural service providers and animal health and feed companies are putting into place action plans to keep people safe,” he says.

“For all of us it means following government advice on minimising personal interaction outside of work. Go home, stay home. Protect yourself, your family and your staff.”

Although meat processing will be an essential service, it won’t be business as usual. Processors are required to register and demonstrate how they will manage risks to people and mitigate against the spread of the virus. Until they do this, Moffat cautions that there may be some delay getting killing space.


At the time of writing, the following farming-related activities had been been classified as essential:

  • Primary industries, including food and beverage production and processing:
  • Packaging, production and processing of food and beverage products.
  • Food safety and verification, inspection or associated laboratory services, food safety and biosecurity functions.
  • Veterinary and animal health/welfare services.
  • Transport, electricity, gas, water, waste, fuel. 

For more information, go to the official Covid-19 website and Beef+Lamb NZ.

Regional planners appear to be hearing dry stock farmers: Two regional water plan decisions – one in the Hurunui catchment, Canterbury and the other in the Waikato – look hopeful for drystock farmers. However both decisions are subject to appeal.

Environment Canterbury has accepted the recommendations of the Independent Hearing Panel on Plan Change 1 to the Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan (HWRRP). The HWRRP is a separate plan from the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan.

The recommendations are designed to enable dryland farmers to continue to operate without the need for a resource consent. Under the proposed plan, dryland farms would have needed to apply for resource consents as a result of normal fluctuations in stock numbers and winter feed area, even though their N emissions are very low.

Perhaps more significant is a decision by Waikato Regional Council to support several changes to its Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 as proposed by five independent commissioners. The plan change allows for the management of nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and bacteria in the Waikato and Waipā river catchments.

Key decisions for deer and other drystock farmers:

  • Farm environment plans will remain a key tool in reducing the diffuse discharge of contaminants from land.
  • Farming activities with a lower nitrogen leaching loss rate will be a permitted activity.
  • Overseer® is not the only decision support tool able to be used.
  • Stock exclusion from water bodies has been linked to slope and the number of stock units.
  • Greater use has been made of stock unit tests to provide for low intensity dry stock farming.

More information about the rules is available here >>

Deer Industry Conference cancelled:  DINZ and the NZ Deer Farmers Association have cancelled the 45th Annual Industry Conference which was to have been held in Invercargill in May.

“We still plan to convene our next conference at Bill Richardson Transport World venue in Invercargill in the heartland regions of Southland, Fiordland and Otago. Hopefully we will be able to do this in May 2021,” DINZ producer manager Tony Pearse says.

In the meantime, the conference themes of resilience and celebrating the deer industry’s achievements remain important. “We will work with our keynote speakers and staff to create video content that we will share mid-year. This will be in an interactive form so you will still be able to engage with keynote speakers, the NZDFA and DINZ boards and executive staff,” he says.

“In the meantime, we hope Covid-19 passes us all by, or has little impact on our families, staff and businesses. But it’s a major threat, so while hoping for the best it is important that we are prepared for the worst.”

Need to have a chat? Farming can bring great joy, but it can also be extremely stressful. Whether it’s drought, flooding, Covid-19, a difficult banker, or things just getting too much, it will usually help to have a chat with someone who gets your issues because they've been there before.

The slogan of the Rural Support Trust is People Helping Rural People. They have rural people living in your region who know from experience what you are going through. On top of that, they have the networks and training to help rural people through all kinds of situations and to point them in the right direction.

Contact the Trust at any time. Call 0800 RURAL HELP for a confidential chat about yourself, your spouse, partner, family member, friend, staff member or neighbour. Or things like the weather, stock health and finances. 

Want to reduce methane emissions from your deer? Deer farmers can do things now to reduce their greenhouse gas output for each kilo of product they sell, says AgResearch Invermay scientist Jamie Ward. “Feeding venison animals better, so they spend less time on the planet before reaching slaughter weights, is one way. Increasing reproductive efficiency, so you have fewer hinds producing the same number of fawns, is another.” 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has launched a research breeding value for methane emissions from sheep. This follows many years’ work by researchers measuring methane emissions from sheep and cattle in sealed accumulating chambers (pictured). Doing the same for deer would be difficult and extremely costly relative to the value of the information gained, Ward says.

“Deer methane output is highly likely to be governed by the same mechanisms and genes as other ruminants. Also we are very fortunate that a lot of the methane genetic work on sheep and cattle is being done at Invermay by the same researchers who are involved in the Hitting Targets research programme for deer. If a DNA test for methane output was ever developed for sheep and cattle it could probably be adapted for deer, but that’s a long way off,” he says.

Foveran Deer Park on the market:  One of the country’s leading deer breeding, trophy and farming operations is on the market. Foveran is a high-country station located in the eastern hills of the Hakataramea Valley, near Kurow, South Canterbury.

The late Bob Robertson purchased the land from his grandfather in 1982 and established the deer breeding operation with his wife Jen in 1984. Infinity Farms, the family company that operates the property is now selling it as a going concern. Foveran runs 11,000 stock units of red deer, cattle and merino sheep across two properties, Foveran Station and The Brothers, totalling 2,646 hectares.   

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