Nov 3, 2023
We are well into velvet removal and while growth has been slow in some places due to our fickle spring, many farmers are reporting cutting good weights. Hopefully that will be on show in the various velvet competitions across the country, just around the corner.
It’s only been a little over two weeks since the last DFA Stagline, but in that time the whole industry was saddened to hear of the passing of one of industry’s founding fathers, Sir Tim Wallis. The NZDFA Executive Committee on behalf of all the branches extends our condolences to the family. We owe Sir Tim and Lady Prue a huge thank you in establishing a world-leading industry from scratch: Our 53-year-old history would not have been possible without the vision and drive of Sir Tim.
I attended the memorial service at Wanaka on 28 October – along with many other hundreds of people from all walks of life, including many from the industry (a nice mix of younger farmers and our revered silverbacks!). The service itself was uplifting and I’m sure Sir Tim would have been pleased with it. Tony Pearse will give a fuller account in the December DFA Stagline, however the whole service is recorded here if you wish to see it: www.southernfuneralhome.co.nz/post/sir-tim-wallis (click on the text not the photo). It includes a documentary produced by Melanie Reid from the 1990s.
DINZ’s newest member, Luka Jansen – our Environmental Stewardship Manager, and I attended a Hawkes Bay Branch meeting at Tikokino on 18 October. Luka will also give her impressions of this later but as far as first meetings with branches go it is hard to top the enthusiasm and proactiveness of this branch which is still recovering from cyclone Gabrielle. Look out for the Hawkes Bay branch event “Deer to Succeed” in February next year, it’s open to all deer farmers and is aimed at venison finishers (“kill weaners when you want to, not before”). They are also stepping up and will be hosting next year’s industry conference in Napier: pencil in Wednesday 8 May and Thursday 9 May for a field trip. More details to follow.
Still on the environment theme, last week Luka and I attended a deer farming workshop for Environment Canterbury (ECan) staff. The workshop was organised by DINZ as part of a series designed to give Regional Council staff more knowledge about deer farming. Well organised by Sara Elmes (DINZ Projects Manager - Industry Capability), twenty-five ECan staff plus a couple of Beef + Lamb NZ colleagues spent the morning learning about the deer industry’s origins, current state, farming systems and environmental practices and ethos. The afternoon however was the highlight as we got to see all of the talk put into practice at Peel Forest Estate where Mark Tapley hosted the group and showed them both the good stuff as well as the challenges that farmers face every day. The group ended the day at Mark’s shiny new and MASSIVE wintering shed for 1350 stags that was used this winter (see later article) – a great note to finish off the workshop with the participants going away with a greater appreciation for the industry, our farmers and of course the deer!
Velvet competitions are coming up this month (see the events calendar) – hopefully you can take some time off to go to one of these near you. They are great social events for the branch and a chance for people to get off farm and catch up with others.
A couple of nights ago Mike Steiner representing the Bay of Plenty Branch was on hand to present the inaugural prize for the top senior agricultural student at Tauranga Boys College. Congratulations to Aidan Spratley. There will be more coverage of this in next month’s issue.
Finally, I think it is fitting to sign off with a photo of the back cover of Sir Tim’s memorial service booklet. It sums an attitude that many in the industry hold and practice!
- Lindsay Fung, Producer Manager