Stagline Issue - 2017-09-01 00:00:00

Stagline Online



Executive Report

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

Velvet Update

The 2017/2018 velvet season is getting underway.

  • Velvet production is well underway – with reports of earlier than normal casting in mature stags in many areas.
  • Many NZ velvet buyers have been busy visiting the markets to get ready for the coming season.
  • It is still too early to predict where prices will be for this season. Although there has been an early burst of interest – there are many factors that will determine the price.
  • By now, all farms will be completing (or be well underway) any shed changes to meet the new NVSB Standards. Meeting the NVSB standards will ensure compliance with MPI’s new Regulatory Control Scheme (RCS) for Deer Velvet Harvest. The Standards define velvet handling, hygiene, cold chain management and traceability requirements.
  • Continued strong growth is reported in sales of Korean health food products that contain NZ velvet. Existing companies are reporting success in the development and launch of new velvet products within their overall range. There is also ongoing interest from new companies keen to investigate opportunities with NZ velvet as an ingredient.

Photos of new products launched this year that contain (and promote) New Zealand deer velvet:

Venison Update

Market Observations

  • The published schedule throughout August climbed week by week, finishing at a high for this season at $9.50/kg, up 20% year on year indicating the extremely tight procurement conditions along with the impact of a  stronger euro and pound.
  • The hind kill was up 20% over July, as farmers took advantage of the higher prices on offer and killing slightly early than usual. Exporters are now gearing up for the start of the early chilled season.


  • Total venison exports for the 12 months ending July 2017 are recorded as 12,140 tonnes, down 13% year on year.
  • The value of these exports was $164 million, down 7%. The average FOB sales price per kg over the last 12 months was $13.54 up 6%.
  • Turning to chilled exports, overall the total volume decreased by 7% and 3% by value. Exports to the US and Canada were up 11% and 34% respectively, with all other markets posting a decrease.
  • Chilled exports made up 20% of total exports by volume and 35% by value and the average FOB sales price per kg over the last 12 months was $23, up 4% year on year.  

New video venison cooking tips for NZ consumers

Neil Brazier, executive chef for Peter Gordon’s The Sugar Club and Bellota restaurants at SKYCITY Auckland, has teamed up with Deer Industry NZ in the preparation of two cookery videos.

The second of the two videos which has received around 24,000 views, featured a recipe suited for the home cook based on Neil’s popular dish available now at The Sugar Club. It’s an Indian style dish where venison medallions are teamed with  spicy onion bhaaji’s and a passionfruit  and mustard dressing. Neil says the dish has sold extremely well over the past few months, with guests blown away by the unusual flavour combinations and the tenderness of the vension.

This weekend listen out for Neil who will be on  Radio Live speaking with Carly Flynn on Saturday Fresh, about his cookery career and why he’s loves cooking with farm raised NZ Venison.

Take a look at award-winning chef Neil Brazier’s Indian-inspired venison which features on the menu at The Sugar Club:

An Important Reminder to all Velvetters

Regulated Control Scheme for Deer Velvet Harvest 

This was included in the August/September Issue of the Deer Industry News. Download a PDF copy here >>

  • The National Velvetting Standards Body (NVSB) de-velvetting programme has now been regulated by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
  • The Regulated Control Scheme for Deer Velvet Harvest (RCS) came into force on 7 August 2017 and is now a mandatory requirement. See:
  • The RCS applies to a farmer, a velvetter, any person who handles or stores deer velvet, and any person who transports deer velvet after harvest.
  • The prime purpose of the RCS is to ensure that deer velvet intended for export complies with market access requirements throughout its harvesting, handling, storage and trans­port.
  • Details and a link to the RCS can be found on the DINZ website or at:
  • Copies of the Q&A explanation sheets can also be found on the DINZ website:
  • A photo gallery of examples of velvetting facilities is being compiled on the DINZ website. Current photos show some “clean zones” meeting the requirements, some with work in progress and some that require work in order to comply.
  • The RCS sets out the requirements that must be met in order to be able to sell your velvet for the purposes of export from this season onwards.
  • The RCS requires all consignments of velvet going off-farm to be accompanied by a Velvet Status Declaration (VSD) to identify the velvet moving through the supply chain. New VSD books are being sent to all velvet­ters registered with the NVSB and all known velvet buyers. Velvetters who have not received a VSD booklet should contact DINZ at or phone 04 473 4500.
  • When selling velvet for export, velvetters will need to sign off a VSD stating that the harvest, handling, storage and transport of their velvet has met all the requirements of the RCS.
  • Auditing of velvet facilities to ensure they meet the RCS requirements can only be undertaken by MPI recognised persons. Current NVSB auditors will become rec­ognised persons under the Act. Other recognised persons such as MPI compliance officers can also audit velvetting premises in future.
  • If you are a velvetter and are concerned, confused and or unsure what to do and need assistance then please contact any of the following National Velvetting Standards Body (NVSB) persons:

 NVSB Executive

  • John Tacon 021 242 2873

 NVSB Committee

  • Ian Scott 027 473 2657
  • Peter Allan 03 201 6313
  • Paddy Boyd 03 680 6637
  • Andrew Conway 021 201 3032

To view information on the new regulations, including a Q&A sheet, shed gallery and list of maintenance compunds (cleaning/sanitising products), head to

To download a copy of the Checklist of Shed & Cold Storage Facility requirements of the Regulatory Control Scheme, click here >>

Important pre-season velvet reminders

With the velvet season just around the corner, it is important to remember that velvet is a high value health product and should be treated as such. To ensure value and product safety, some key points to remember include:

  • A suitable, effective tourniquet must be applied to the pedicle before administration of local anesthetic to minimise the chance of it getting into the velvet antler.
  • Ensure the tourniquet is applied first, regardless of whether the ring block or direct nerve anesthesia is used.
  • Ensure that the anaesthetic dose used is correct (neither too much nor too little) and the nick test is used to ensure that analgesia has been achieved.
  • Apply the local anaesthetic as a high-dose ring block below the tourniquet (Refer to the National Velvetting Standards Body (NVSB) Farmer Velvet Antler Removal Manual or check with your veterinarian for details). The ring block is the recommended option for local anaesthetic position (at a dose of 1 ml of 2% lignocaine per cm of circumference).
  • Manage stags to avoid them lowering their head during velvet removal. Lowering the head can increase pressure pushing the anaesthetic into the antler.
  • Completely disinfect all equipment used, between stags.
  • Take safety precautions when applying and removing the tourniquet.
  • Brush down velvet and ensure its clean before freezing.
  • All first cut velvet should be individually tagged with the NVSB tags.
  • In the case of spiker velvet and second cut, tag the bag.
  • Freeze velvet as soon as possible after cooling. Do not hang velvet too long (to avoid blood pooling inside the antler). If resting velvet after cutting, sit it on racks at about 15 degrees slope to avoid blood pooling in the tips.
  • Make sure freezers are clean. Ideally, walk-in freezers should be used. If a chest freezer is used, velvet should be placed so that the tips of tynes are not placed on other velvet so that they could become indented.
  • Store velvet in airtight plastic bags to avoid any ice forming on antlers.
  • Keep velvet hard frozen at all times. Minimise transfer between freezers to avoid any possibility of thawing.
  • Transport velvet frozen in sealed plastic bags which your velvet buyer/company may provide for this purpose.

Also, please remember, any velvet antler removal must only be performed by a certified NVSB operator or a veterinarian. For further information on the NVSB programme, please contact Pam MacLeman on 04 473 4500 or John Tacon on 04 471 6117.

Finally, all the very best for the up-coming velvet season and remember to support your local velvet competitions.

New approaches to control parasites

Over the past 18 months, the NZDFA and AgMardt have been co-funding a research project through the Otago Innovation company Otago University’s Disease Research Laboratory (DRL) (now based at Invermay) in a $150,000 project research area “New approaches to control parasites (in deer)".

This project set out to identify and measure the natural resistance or susceptibility to parasitic infection in livestock populations through identifying biomarkers that may indicate genetic based resilience or susceptibility.

The concept is a further development of the earlier DFA/DEEResearch and DRL research co funded through the $500,000 Callaghan Innovation project looking to identify Resilience (R) and susceptibility (S) Biomarkers to Johne’s disease.

The Final report to AgMardt was approved recently. 

As part of the reporting a short Press Release was required and is copied below. The full final report has been distributed to the funding branches and is available on request (via e copy).

In terms of outcomes, Research Leader Dr Rory O’Brien advises the current state of the play is:

“As a direct result of AgMardt and NZDFA support received, we now have in place DNA based diagnostic assays for gut parasites (Ostertagia spp.) and bovine and cervine lungworm (Dictyocaulus spp.)."

Having demonstrated necessary proof of principle of a DNA based diagnostic for parasites shed in faeces, we are now working towards calibration of the assay against conventional methodologies (faecal egg and larval counts) using a cohort of young red deer exposed to naturally acquired parasite infection and monitored routinely at the AgResearch Invermay agricultural campus.

The disease status of each of these animals will be confirmed retrospectively, following necropsy of animals experimentally infected with Ostertagia parasites.

The NZDFA would like to thank all those involved to date at the research end through Dr Rory O’Brien and Simon Liggett, the AgResearch Deer Research Group and for the leadership of Prof Frank Griffin and wider team and particularly those in the DFA who nationally and at Branch level supported the programme financially and assured its success. We look forward to  future developments in the further definition Biomarkers for disease resilience especially in Johne’s disease and parasitism, and emerging areas (as part of the Tomorrows deer DEEResearch programme) .

- Tony Pearse. Producer Manager DINZ   

AGMARDT Agribusiness Innovation Grant A16027.  Otago Innovation Ltd Disease Research Laboratory

MEDIA Release August 2017

New Approaches to Control Parasites; Final Report.

For New Zealand to meet the Government’s target of doubling agricultural exports by 2025, new technologies to control infectious diseases are needed.

Parasitic infections are the most important infectious disease in NZ ruminants. They are poorly understood and therapeutic control has changed little since the development of anthelminthic drenches 40 years ago.  Diagnosis remains largely unchanged, relying on manually performed faecal egg and larval counts to estimated degree of worm burden.

The research aims of the current study were twofold.

1. Firstly when an animal is scouring or losing weight we wanted to be able to better diagnose why. To this end we have augmented our (existing) Johne’s disease faecal test technology to concurrently detect endoparasite species commonly affecting red deer.

The goal has been to develop a composite diagnostic test for animals presenting with generalised, nonspecific clinical indicators of enteric disease such as scouring or progressive weight loss. 

Distinguishing between Johne’s and parasitic disease remains a continuing challenge in disease control and early differentiation will expedite informed and appropriately targeted treatment and management.

With this funding assistance from AgMardt and the key NZ Deer Farmers’ Association Branches,  we have developed rapid, quantitative and species-specific DNA tests for parasite eggs and larvae shed in the dung of affected hosts as an alternative to conventional faecal egg counts and as an adjunct to routine Johne’s testing.

  1. Secondly, we have begun to investigate the emergence of natural resistance or susceptibility to parasitic infection evident in naturally exposed livestock populations.

To this end we have utilised methods we developed to monitor ruminant (cervine) immune responses to Johne’s disease to monitor immune responses to parasitic infection.

Improved diagnostics will allow us to differentiate between diseased, susceptible animals, and resilient/resistant animals with protective immunity for further study. These studies are exploratory and a logical prelude to future research to develop immunodiagnostics that identify diseased/susceptible animals for targeted anthelminthic treatment.

By contrast the identification of markers of immune protection/resilience will inform future vaccine development and support genetic selection of animals with superior resistance or resilience to parasites.

Parasitism ranks as the most costly type of infectious disease affecting NZ livestock, with losses >$700M pa.

Currently the strategy to control parasitic disease involves repeated drenching of young animals with anthelminthics using protocols that have changed little in 40 years. Repeat drenching is expensive, produces chemical residues and results in the development of drug resistance, limiting long term utility.

In a world of ever increasing parasite resistance to chemical drenches, with consumer opinion signalling disapproval of resultant residues and with ever tighter margins on production systems, it is time to consider alternative approaches to the problem of parasitism. This work addresses key issues that could enhance the production of residue-free food products in an ever discriminating International marketplace.

For further information please contact:

Dr Rory O’Brien, Senior Scientist or Simon Liggett, Laboratory Manager, Disease Research Ltd

Block C, AgResearch Invermay Puddle Alley , Mosgiel 9092

PH +64 3 489 4832   Cell:021 249 7710

Follow DRL on Facebook >>


Deer Farming in Public

How many people remember the media frenzy in January 2016 over cattle in a lake on a Canterbury high country station?  The incident was in the back country and was photographed by a holidaymaker. As it turned out the cattle were allowed to use the lake for drinking water (although standing in water was not permitted!), but the social scrutiny and commentary that the land owner and farm manager was subjected to was intense.

Photo from Stuff, 2016

It will not be news to farmers that the impact of farming on the country’s rivers and lakes is a hot topic and one of the more significant issues highlighted in this year’s election. While the majority of the focus is on intensive livestock farming (in most cases dairying and dairy grazing) the public gaze does not differentiate between Friesian, Jersey, Angus, Hereford cattle… or Woburn, Eastern, Rakaia red deer or wapiti.

It’s not just deer that wallow!

Over the last couple of years DINZ has received a handful of comments from the public regarding deer wallowing close to waterways or doing damage around unfenced waterways, some of these incidents being observed from state highways. 

Of course farming often throws up challenging situations and hard choices and this winter in particular has not been helpful for managing livestock (e.g. finding suitable paddocks for feeding out).  However Joe Public will most likely not have any understanding of this nor any idea about the environmental good management practices that might be happening on the farm and will only see deer next to or in water.

In this age of instant social media, one picture with negative connotations (probably without any context) may require more than a thousand words to rectify.  A quick search on the internet through travellers’ blogs shows that deer farming pictures and impressions are quite common and that's not really surprising given the uniqueness of New Zealand’s pastoral deer farming in the world.

Generally (apart from some regional plans!) deer farming is regarded favourably:  We are a small industry and we recognise the deer behaviours that are likely to cause environmental impacts and have management options to minimise or mitigate them.  DINZ is working to codify these into an industry Environmental Management Code of Practice to further cement deer farming in New Zealand as an environmentally responsible industry. 

Public viewing of New Zealand farming will always be present and while first appearances count and can generate unwelcome attention, we should also be able to demonstrate positive and meaningful farm management (e.g. the sediment traps and wetlands placed at strategic points, the fencing and culverting on the major tracks and raceways, the retired erosion prone gullies, the shelter belts that provide shade and reduce fence pacing) that results in a low environmental footprint. 

Photo from the Landcare Manual, 2012

Cattle Flat Station, Matukituki Valley

GIA biosecurity consultation coming your way

DINZ will be seeking your views in October on whether to join the "Government-Industry Agreement" (GIA) on Biosecurity readiness and response.

Greater industry input into biosecurity response processes, like the current Mycoplasma Bovis case, seems like a sensible idea - but there will likely be some cost associated with that.

Look out for information in October on what GIA means for the livestock sector and the deer industry and HAVE YOUR SAY! 

Dairy, beef and sheep farmers will also be consulted in parallel.  Catharine Sayer, Policy Manager, is mindful that it'll be hectic for you on farm at that time and is doing her utmost in conjunction with DairyNZ and Beef+LambNZ to make the information clear and the feedback process a doddle.


Ballance Farm Environment Awards

In recognition of excellence in sustainable farming practices, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards currently offers eight national awards, in addition to individual regional awards. Regions are: Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, East Coast, Taranaki, Horizons, Greater Wellington, Canterbury, Otago and Southland. We encourage deer farmers to enter these awards to showcase our industry.

Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme

Applications for the 2018 courses commencing in January and June 2018 are now open. Full details are on the new website with applications for January closing on 16 October 2017 and June on 19 March 2018.

Looking for summer work

I am currently a 3rd year Lincoln University Bachelor of Agricultural science student and am looking for work on a deer property over the summer period. 

I am very keen to try some work in the deer industry to broaden my knowledge and skill set while I am still young and in a position to do so. I have previosly worked on a sheep and beef farm and a dairy goat farm. I would be looking for summer holiday work in the Waikato/Rotorua region. 

I am able to start work from early November and go through to mid February 
Phone number 0278736223

Looking for experience to begin career in the deer industry

My husband and I are interested in a career in the deer farming industry, we have applied for several jobs over the years but unfortunately have been told we need experience. I am writing in the hope you may be able to share my email with any farms in the Fiordland region. Any help or guidance would be appreciated, regards Kelly and Shane Peake.

Get in touch with Kelly and Shane on

Looking to visit NZ deer farms

My girlfriend Alix (25) and I, Wannes (29)  will come visit New zealand for a couple months (January and Februray 2018). We are both veterinarians.
I have been working with deer for 4 years right now and would like to start a deer farm myself. In Europe (France, Netherlands and Belgium) I have been visiting and working at some farms already but the most knowledge comes from New Zealand so thats why when we visit New Zealand for a holiday we would like to visit some deer farms and of course we can help doing the daily work. You can contact us at my email adress : 

Metservice Outlook

The first week of spring starts with a bang, as the westerly winds fire up. Multiple rain bands are forecast to slam into the country from the west, and significant rain is possible in the west of both Islands. Warmer northwesterlies in the first half of the week should give way to cooler southwesterlies by the weekend. Further unsettled weather is likely to affect the country next week too, with a somewhat wetter than usual signal for the North Island. Conditions should settle down a little over the second half of the month, remembering that weather patterns in September are often mobile and quite changeable. In particular, we should start to see some ridging (and some quieter spells) over the North Island during the back half of September. Overall, expect above normal September rainfall for western regions of both Islands, as well as Bay of Plenty and Gisborne. Closer to normal September rainfall is predicted elsewhere.

A colder than average September, overall, is signalled for inland areas of the South Island, especially the Southern Lakes, inland Southland, and inland Otago. Elsewhere around the country, monthly temperatures are expected to track near normal for the time of year – noting that temperatures often swing wildly over the course of a few days, at this time of year.
The Bottom Line: A wet September for western regions of both Islands, as well as Bay of Plenty and Gisborne; near normal rainfall elsewhere. A colder than usual September for inland parts of the South Island, overall. Elsewhere, temperatures should track close to spring norm.

You can sign up for the MetService's Monthly Outlook right to your inbox - click here to subscribe.


Joke of the Month

Pulling Together
A guy drives into a ditch, but luckily, a farmer is there to help. He hitches his horse, Buddy, up to the car and yells, "Pull, Nellie, pull!" Buddy doesn’t move.

"Pull, Buster, pull!" Buddy doesn’t budge.

"Pull, Coco, pull!" Nothing.

Then the farmer says, "Pull, Buddy, pull!" And the horse drags the car out of the ditch.

Curious, the motorist asks the farmer why he kept calling his horse by the wrong name.

"Buddy’s blind," said the farmer. "And if he thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn’t even try."

Calendar of events

Event Date Details

B+LNZ Environment Plan Workshops


Click on event for more details and to register (essential):

B+LNZ Farm Environment Plan Workshop

B+LNZ Land and Environment Planning Level 1 Workshop:

B+LNZ Wormwise Workshops

Tue 19 September

Wormwise is the national worm management strategy. 

These workshops are strictly limited. Click on event for more details and to register (essential): 

B+LNZ Farm Safety Management System Workshop


Click on event for more details and to register (essential):

Hawke's Bay Progressive AP Regional Workshop

Wed 27 September

Come and hear what the Hawke's Bay Progressive AP group have been up to. 

There will also be a short session on the trial work on combination drenches and capsules, presented by AgResearch.

More details to come >>

Southland Elk Wapiti Advance Party Regional Workshop

Wed 11 October

Capturing Opportunities on Southland Deer Farms - Come and hear what the Southland Elk/Wapiti Advance Party has been up to.

Programme:- Welcome - Andrew Roe (Facilitator)
- Introduction to Connemara - Murray Hagen (Owner) and Jim Cameron (Stock Manager)
-  Deer Genetics - Sharon McIntyre (Deer Industry NZ)
- Advance Party Member projects
- Summary and Refreshments

More details here >>

2017/18 Velvet Competitions


North Island Velvet Comp - Thu 30 November, Napier 

Top of the South - Tue 5 December

National Velvet & Trophy Antler Competition - Tue 12 December, Invercargill

Rising Stars - Sat 24 February 2018, Mt Mauganui


If you're organising a velvet competition and don't see your event up there, please email details to Cenwynn on for your event to be added. Details will be added as they become available to the 2017/18 Velvet Competition event listing on the DINZ website.