The smallish hinds, between 110-120kg, consistently produce 70-plus kilogram weaners.
During the 20 years he has bred weaners the same breeding formula has been used.
“A smallish Red hind crossed with Elk and fed well produces an efficient hybrid weaner,” Paul says.
“There is no secret to ‘good’ hind feeding; it’s simply a matter of steady year round feeding, with a step up in quality and quantity in the lead-up to and during mating and lactation.
“You need to feed hinds so they milk to demand. If you don’t you pay for it in the long run because they don’t get back in calf.”
To promote good milking fawning hinds get access to extra pasture. Maintaining quality can be a problem at this time of year but helped by using young cattle to control rank growth. To get hinds in optimal condition for mating this year baleage was fed out from early in April due to the dry conditions.
Paul Waller says reproductive efficiency comes from breeding smallish Red hinds to elk/wapiti bulls.
Weaning is generally post rut.
“I haven’t got quality feed to wean before but long term I’d like to be weaning earlier.”
This year’s weaners are grazing fodderbeet and baleage and the top cut will come off in mid-August/early September on to winter saved grass.
“The thing with hybrids is that they will grow over winter and if they get on to pasture early they grow better.”
Each year up to 1500 hybrid weaners are finished, most for the premium price pre-Christmas market.
Weaner finishing was the mainstay of the deer business until six years ago when Paul decided to start breeding his own terminal sires, selling off some for trophy as well as increasing velvet quality and quality.
“We’re aiming for good terminal and trophy progeny but probably erring more towards the trophy side. It (trophy) is an up and down market but you can play it; it’s a bit like trees … if the price isn’t right you can hold on to them for another year.”
More: Country-Wide June