Typical Venison Production Cycle

Typical Venison Production Cycle

New Zealand venison marketing companies can deliver premium quality venison 12 months of the year.  However, because a natural pasture based farming system is used in New Zealand there are peaks and troughs in the supply of chilled venison due to the annual production cycle.  Supply is highest through the New Zealand Summer and fall - October to March, and lowest in the New Zealand winter months April through to August.  Farmers can grow young deer quickly on fresh spring and summer pastures but will need to use stored feed during the winter, so most farmers will aim to grow their young deer to the desired weights before the onset of winter.

Nearly all deer bred for venison production in New Zealand are processed before the animals are two years of age.    New Zealand processing facilities operate year round, venison marketing companies will agree delivery times with their suppliers to ensure a constant supply of venison over the whole year.

This information provides a simplification of the New Zealand venison production cycle.  The actual dates of these activities will vary between different farm systems and geographic location, but this is a guide to when most of these events happen on most New Zealand farms.  

seasonal venison production in new zealand

 

Venison Production Cycle in New Zealand

Year 1.

Breeding Hinds

Fawns

November

“Fawning” or “Calving”

Fawns born

December

Fawning

Fawns born

January

 

 

February

 

 

March

Surplus hinds removed from the herd.

Weaning – removing fawns from hinds

April

Stags put with hinds for mating

 

May

Stags removed from Hinds

 

June

Pregnancy scanning

 

July

Non-pregnant hinds sent for processing

 

August

 

First kill of largest new season animals (8 months old)

September

 

Sent for slaughter as they hit target weights

October

 

Sent for slaughter as they hit target weights

Year 2

 

Yearlings - Year 2

November

 

Now called yearlings drafted as they hit target weights

December

 

Yearlings drafted as they hit target weights

January

 

Yearlings drafted as they hit target weights

February

 

Yearlings drafted as they hit target weights

March

 

Yearlings drafted as they hit target weights

April

 

Yearlings drafted as they hit target weights

May

 

Females not needed as breeding replacements sent for slaughter

June

 

Females not needed as breeding replacements sent for slaughter

July

 

Females not needed as breeding replacements sent for slaughter

 

Glossary:

Fawn – The offspring of red deer, the predominant breed farmed in New Zealand

Calf – The offspring of Wapiti, used as terminal sires in New Zealand

Weaning – Separating the fawn from the hind.  Normally done before mating.

Hind – Female red deer

Stag – Male red deer

Yearlings – Animals one year old.

Draft – Selecting animals that hit target weights and condition to be sent for sale or slaughter

Cull – To remove from the herd and send for slaughter, or sale

Breeding replacements – Yearling female animals kept to add to the breeding herd.  Most farmers will replace 15% to 20% of their breeding hinds each year.

Pregnancy Scanning – Ultra sound scan to confirm pregnancy