Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Clear picture emerges

In 2008, the couple put their hands up to be the Central Region Deer Industry Focus Farm and formed a close relationship with their facilitator Richard Hilson, of Vet Services.

“Tim and Richard developed a clear picture of how they wanted to showcase deer farming at its best.”

The farm began to use its feed more effectively, grow deer heavier and faster, and reduce animal-health issues. More flexibility in feed management was added to the farm system with the introduction of Friesian bulls. Fawn survival was improved through a “return to paddock” weaning strategy, developed by Tim and Lucy.

One clear benefit from monitoring through the Focus Farm programme was picking up a stag producing offspring prone to Johne’s disease, Lucy said. “It was all good information.”

With help from Pete Swinburn, Tim learned to use Farmax software, giving him a much better ability to feed budget and plan. The couple have always had a good relationship with their regional council and were able to add to tree planting and wetland development programmes through a considerable grant from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

Lucy has supported Tim during his involvement with the Deer Farmers Association and now with his work on the Deer Industry New Zealand board and Firstlight Venison board. In 2010 the couple won the Silver Fern Farms Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year award and they have also won Deer Industry New Zealand Environmental Awards.

A better advocate for venison couldn’t be found than Lucy. She is quick to point out the health attributes of the meat and admits that during the price slumps they ate plenty of home venison themselves.

“We also do our bit for the wine industry now.”

Not content to stand still, Lucy is looking forward to further gains through genetics. This is being done through a comprehensive artificial insemination programme and analysing a number of traits on-farm as well as carcase information sent back from Firstlight.

“It will be fantastic to get feedback on our deer that were finished on other farms.”

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