Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Foot to the floor

Chillaxing is not a word David and Pam Nind spend a lot of time doing if the rate of development on their Five Rivers properties is anything to go by. Since 2010, when the couple began their three-year tenure as the Southland Deer Industry focus farm they’ve kept the foot on the pedal, developing from scratch a large-scale deer breeding and finishing operation that successfully integrates sheep and cattle.

In broad terms they’ve fine-tuned the growing of forage crops and feeding of young stock at the Bixter Road property, aiming to produce more kilograms of meat earlier.

At East Dome they’ve focused on boosting productivity and setting up a practical and efficient farm for integrating ewes, hinds and cattle.

David and Pam Nind breed deer, and fatten cattle and sheep on their hill-country farm.

The Ninds’ deer farming goal is to run a simple large-scale breeding and finishing system running 1500 in-calf hinds and finishing 2000 weaners.

They’ve eclipsed the weaner target, finishing 1888 weaner stags to an average 52.6kg (CW) and are almost at the hind target, running 1200 hinds, including 300 first calvers.

Building the hind herd has taken longer than expected and involved a change of breeding tack. They started with 1100 mixed-age mostly Eastern hinds. Eastern stags were bred across the majority and wapiti across the bottom-end hinds. The wapiti stags and hybrid hinds were sold to simplify the breeding system. The Ninds are now moving away from the bigger framed Eastern stags in favour of European genetics, buying in six stags a year.

“We went with Easterns at the start to help square up what we had but they’ve done the job and we feel they’re getting too big so don’t want to keep using them.”

They have established an elite herd of 300 hinds selecting the top yearlings (over 92kg) and best type second, third and forth calvers. These hinds will be bred to European stags with the aim of breeding better quality replacement hinds and spikers for mating the B mob first calvers.

Wastage in first calvers is a problem the Ninds are grappling with. Last year the first calvers were separated with the heavier hinds (over 92kg) mated to stags and the lighter weight hinds to spikers at a 1:10 ratio. The combined fawning average (hinds mated to fawns weaned) was 77% but of particular note was the poor performance of the heavier stag mated hinds.

“We lost 15% at the first scanning and when wet-dries were added in only managed 65%.”

Although disappointed with first-calver performance, David is sticking with the same breeding policy this year.

“We’ll see what happens and if there’s a repeat of the problem we’ll put spikers across the lot.”

Toxoplasmosis has been ruled out as the cause of the problem. The Ninds are part of a toxoplasmosis study and blood samples taken at the two scannings gave no visible indication of a problem. DEERSelect manager Sharon McIntyre said pinpointing reproductive problems was difficult because so many factors came into play.

David said industry emphasis on producing a 100kg weaner was perhaps at the expense of hind efficiency.

“I don’t think we’ve (the industry) given enough thought to our replacement hinds.”

Related story: Refining fodderbeet in Southland

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