Hopefully we have seen the back end of winter and can now concentrate on drying out a bit and growing grass for the spring!
The DFA has just recently coordinated on the 5th Next Generation Programme on the 23/24th of August that was this year hosted by the Deer Research Group at AgResearch Invermay. This proved to be a great venue as it allowed us to break into smaller groups to get round the farm and have an in depth workshop on different topics that the farm is focussing on.
Day 1 started off with a tour to the Duncan NZ plant tour, consisted of body condition scoring,animal health and a look at the newish yards (with a focus on the new velvetting regulations), grass qualities and covers needed for growing weaners, environment (what tools and experimental work is happening there) and Genomics and Disease Research Laboratory (DRL) lab tours.
That evening we had a social function and a quiz night (with two amazing MC's!).
The following morning we had a field day recap, a session on the velvet markets, a session on the NVSB, the new on farm requirements and deer welfare (particuarly related to deer transport to venison plants and spiker velvet removal). Next was a facilitated session on paths to farm ownership or management and succession. After lunch we had a session on DFA, the next generation and the future of deer farming to wrap up.
This event we believe has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, and has become a highlight of our DFA calendar! There is no more satisfaction for us as your representatives than seeing an information hungry group of like minded men and women who are passionate about taking deer farming to the next level!
We are also very pleased to have had DINZ CEO Dan Coup and new DINZ Board member Kris Orange attending for the event (the full write up will be in Deer Industry News).
One of the major purposes when we came up with this initiative was to drive enthusiasm, which will drive a passion for succession. Not only in farming but also within our DFA structure! This topic was discussed this year with the participants and rolled into how they see our DFA moving forward. If we want to foster this next generation so they can eventually take over leadership roles, we have to create an environment where they are involved at DFA level. This may be as simple as having a few open branch meetings per year where these guys and girls are encouraged along and really utilised and involved in upcoming events.... who knows - it may be the revitalising we need!
Another area that has been keeping us busy at the moment is organising shed meetings in our areas so that everyone is on the same page with velvet shed requirements.
I think one of the biggest messages is that there is not one silver bullet solution as each deer shed is different! It is a matter of talking to other farmers, talking to NVSB reps and keeping in mind that we are dealing with a high value food product! When assessing your velvet harvest areas, a key point to keep in mind is, are all my surfaces that velvet comes into contact with clean and washable?
These regulations may seem like a pain, but I can assure you that every single industry (especially when handling food products) is dealing with regulation and change. The main thing to remember is that we want to continue to sell this product and harvest it ourselves...... and it will be the weakest links that let us down!
Enjoy the upcoming season and support your branches.
- Grant Charteris, NZDFA Executive Committee