DINZ news in brief | Issue 105

Dec 19, 2023

Click a heading below or scroll down to read


In Brief

Shorts >>

Events >>

A “day to remember” for six Chinese chefs visiting the ‘Ends of the Earth’

Six top Chinese chefs had a “New Zealand venison day to remember” in a New Zealand trip of a lifetime.

Pictured at Fairlight Station are (left to right) New Zealand venison brand ambassador Xijin Wu, Jiayi Huang, Mae Lu, Chris Zhu, Dan Li and Lack Li.

Organised by DINZ assistant markets manager Virginia Connell on 21 November, day one in Otago of the group’s six-day ‘Ends of the Earth’ culinary tour, “was a great success for New Zealand farm-raised venison,” she reports.

“Strong connections were built with the chefs, which will hold New Zealand venison in good stead for the future, and also strengthened with the other partners, Silver Fern Farms, Fiordland Lobster, Akaroa Salmon, Cloudy Bay Clams and Cloudy Bay Wines for future projects.”

Visits to Fairlight Station and DINZ chair Mandy Bell’s Criffel Station showcased how New Zealand’s venison and velvet is produced, before the group enjoyed “an amazing meal covering the whole industry” created by DINZ executive chef Graham Brown at Criffel.

Results are starting to filter through. Pinyeuting’s culinary director Xijin Wu’s first day reports achieved over 6,000 views that day alone. Because of his expertise and interest in the ingredients, Wu has been selected as New Zealand venison’s ‘brand ambassador’ in China.

t least a year’s worth of “spectacular imagery”, both video and still images, has been generated from the trip for use on New Zealand venison’s social media channels and other marketing platforms,” Connell says.

Watch the video to get a taste of the tour here>>

Top ↑

A stunning day out at the DINZ Environmental Award Field Day

Picture perfect scenery and eye-catching examples of integrated land-based and environmentally focused management were on show at the 2023 Deer Industry Environmental Award field day on 1 December.

The Glen Dene team behind the success with Sarah and Richard Burdon (backrow, second and third from right).

Winners Richard and Sarah Burdon of Glen Dene Station on the east side of Lake Hawea overviewed to a crowd of 60 how over the last decade they had walked the talk of smart, responsible and integrated environmental management across their three-strand deer, sheep and beef breeding/finishing; game hunting; and camping ground business.

A guiding document was an integrated environmental farm plan, digitalised two years ago, making it possible to take the data collection and monitoring aspects around nutrient, irrigation, soil and waterway management to the next level. The ‘living’ plan and collected data provided timely information to fulfill environmental regulations and consents. A good example was a seven-year winter grazing consent for the wider Glen Dene farming business, including Longridge a South Otago finishing farm and a Hawea flat lease block.

Early adopters of carbon farming, the Burdons joined the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in 2011, which had generated around $1 million in carbon credits.

Glen Dene’s game and hunting business started following a conversation with a hunting business friend who said there was more money to be made from recreation than farming would ever generate. Richard Burdon had enjoyed the game hunting scene and was a member of Hunters for Conservation New Zealand.

The environmental award win was a celebration, said Sarah Burdon, and was due to a team effort of family, staff and the organisation and community groups with which they had partnered.

There is still a long way to go but the Burdons are confident Glen Dene is well placed for the fourth generation – daughter Georgie and son Charlie who are both pursuing agriculture – to take it to the next level.

Top ↑

Fairlight Station first off the 2023-2024 stag sale blocks

The first of this year’s 16 stag, hind and Wapiti bull sales took place at Fairlight Station’s farm near Garston in Southland on 6 December.

The Fairlight stag sale “had a nice line up of buyers,” with 14 of the 15 venison sire stags offered selling, reports PGG Wrightson deer specialist Ben Beadle.

Venison is the focus for Fairlight, with W12BV one of the main drivers for selection.

Armed with the stags’ full venison breeding values in the catalogue, buyers knew what they were bidding for.

Fairlight’s main focus is “carcase weight at 12 months, using W12BV as one of the main drivers for selection,” explains farm manager Simon Wright.

Prices averaged $4,350, around a third higher than last year. The top price reached was $7,000 each for two of the stags, $2,000 more than the top bid last year.

“It was a very pleasing result,” for Wright. “A core of loyal buyers continues to support us.”

Forest Road had a full clearance with prices up on previous years. Ruapehu had a sold sale with the average sale price of over $5,000 and Peel Forest Estate also had a good sale of their Forester stags with 50 out 50 stags sold according to PGG Wrightsons agent Graham Kinsman.


Click for more information about upcoming sales >>

Top ↑

It’s El Niño alright, but not as we know it

The long-predicted El Niño is here, but not as most of us know it. Unusually high ocean temperatures in the tropics have contributed to weather circulation patterns that are not typical of past El Niños.

Hurry up, we’re hungry. Photo: Hub Hall.

Instead of strong westerlies and drought on the east coast of both islands, farmers in most regions have been witnessing widespread rain, lush pasture growth and a bounty of baleage and silage.

NIWA says El Niño will continue through summer and predicts there’s an 85 percent chance of it persisting through autumn. Despite the non-traditional El Niño, NIWA says there is still an increased risk of dry spells in several regions, including areas that may not have had them in recent years. For details go here >>

In the western and lower South Island, there is expected to be increased heavy rainfall and a risk of flooding. It highlights a heightened risk of this in mid-to-late December.

DINZ industry capability project manager Sara Elmes says for many deer farmers on the east coasts of both islands, the 2023-2024 El Niño comes on the back of two seasons of strong spring and summer growth, so most have good stocks of silage and baleage. This will stand them in good stead if late summer and early autumn are particularly dry.

She is encouraging farmers to keep an eye on the NIWA climate outlook, the new Drought Forecasting dashboard, and in regions NIWA says are at risk of drought, to check out the DINZ Deer Fact, ‘Drought feeding and management’.

“The fact that this El Niño is untypical means its effects on the weather are even more unpredictable than usual, but the risk remains,” she says.

Top ↑

VelTrak updates: changed your email address?

With the busy velvetting season now mid-way through, VelTrak is working well to ensure traceability of the high-quality velvet. DINZ has a few reminders for velvetters, who might have updated their email addresses since registering with VelTrak or not updated their passwords yet.

For those not getting email reminders that a Velvet Status Declaration (VSD) is awaiting approval, it may be because their email address has changed recently or since setting up VelTrak, suggests DINZ quality systems administrator Pam MacLeman.

If velvetters think that is the case, “they need to login, go to Manage Users and update the email address.”

DINZ is also reminding VelTrak users, if they haven’t done so already, to change their password in the new system. The system upgrade earlier in the year means that all passwords needed to be updated. Simply click on the ‘Forgot my password’ link and follow the instructions to reset the password, says MacLeman.

All VelTrak enquiries should now be made to the normal DINZ number 04-473 4500 or make contact via email at (the former 0508 VELTRAK number is no longer in operation).

Top ↑

Research is investigating velvet’s immune function enhancement

One of the main research projects planned over the next five years is further investigating evidence to support the claims of enhancement of immune function for deer velvet. It is also finding out how to “determine optimum velvet removal time/grade to maximise returns from our aspirational healthy food market,” explains DINZ policy and research manager Emil Murphy.

Some of Invermay’s newly harvested velvet antlers.

The high-quality research is using state-of-the-art technologies and is led by internationally recognised scientists, but it all started earlier this year at AgResearch’s Invermay deer farm, making use of the newly expanded velvet herd, he says.

“To be able to do this work, antlers need to be harvested across several days of growth.”

Starting early, the farm team recorded button drop date for each antler on all the stags. From that, they created the cutting schedule. The schedule meant a busy few weeks for the farm to cut the right stag on the right day. For some stags, it meant one antler was cut a few days days before the other. In addition to having set days of growth, the antlers were also graded as usual.

With the antlers now harvested and safely in the freezers, the next steps are to look at how well their extracts stimulate human immune cells and take a deep level look at the composition.

“This will allow us to start identifying other ways to measure quality for velvet, especially velvet that is destined for the healthy food market,” says Murphy.

Top ↑

‘Checking-in’ with North Island mates

A newly launched collaborative rural wellbeing recovering project, ‘Checking-in’ will help North Island rural communities come together through a series of in-person events and programmes this summer.

'Checking in'

Making time to check-in on each other and focus on personal and family well-being is key during this challenging time for the rural sector, says Lisa Sims of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust.

“That’s why several rural organisations have come together to deliver ‘Checking-in’ – a series of community events and online tools and tips for connection and resilience in a tough season,” she says.

The project includes “easy, fun and informative” community get-togethers, events and personal development programmes across the North Island, including AWDT YOU Matter programmes, Rural Women NZ supporting community Christmas events, Farmstrong Comedy Shows and more.

A 15-part series of short videos features rural leaders and resiliency experts and aims to ‘make the hard stuff manageable’ – like supporting young people through challenging times, managing emotions and enjoying the good times.

‘Checking-in’ is a follow-on project from last May’s ‘Big Check-In’, an online evening of support for rural people, held post-Cyclone Gabrielle and supported by a number of rural organisations.

Rural deer people can find ‘Checking-in’ local events and sign-up for the tools and tips email series at

Top ↑

New DINZ board observer: Camille Flack

Deer farmer and veterinarian Camille Flack will be the new DINZ board observer in 2024, it has been announced.

The DINZ board observer in 2024 will be Camille Flack.

The board observer role will help Flack to continue growing and developing her governance and leadership skills, “while continuing to foster and develop new veterinarians and farmers in our community,” she says.

With her partner, Tom Blakely, the couple purchased their first block of land in 2017 and grew in 2019 to the 440 hectare block they have now, where they breed sheep, beef and deer for velvet near Waipukurau. She is also a vet and director at Vet Services Hawke’s Bay Ltd, which she joined in 2014, and is the Vet Services Group’s production animal veterinary lead.

Her background has given her a broad understanding of New Zealand agribusiness and rural communities, and a “particularly strong farming and veterinary skill set,” she says.

Currently the regional co-ordinator of the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA)’s Hawke’s Bay branch, Flack represents the body on the Wormwise Implementation Group and is a NZVA Deer Special Interest Branch committee member. She is also an Advance Party facilitator.

She will take up the position in January and will attend board meetings until January 2025. Current board observer Hamish Glendinning will be in position until the February 2024 board meeting.

Top ↑

Latest edition of Deer Industry News out now

The December edition of Deer Industry News is out in mailboxes now.

It’s another great read with in-depth looks at topical deer industry matters.

In addition to a comprehensive obituary for Sir Tim Wallis, there is more information about the changes to China’s import rules for velvet, a look at farm assurance, reasons for optimism for the Korean velvet market, the opportunities being sought for venison and strong demand in Europe, new build tips, ideas and advice for new deer-sheds and NAIT problems that have been tagged for action, among many others.

Those who don’t get a hard copy can download a digital copy from the DINZ website >>

Deer Industry News, now has it's own Facebook page! Follow the page to stay up to date with industry news as it rolls in >>

Top ↑

Merry Christmas from DINZ eNews

We’ve come to the end of 2023. What a year!

We’re delighted so many – over 3,400 of you at the last count – continue to read DINZ eNews to keep up-to-date with the latest deer industry news. Thank you for your support.

A lot has gone on this year, including: DINZ re-structuring, dealing with governmental policy implementation on the ground and submitting thoughts on proposals for new policy, Cyclone Gabrielle, venison price recovery, farewelling Sir Tim Wallis and welcoming the new Government. Now, the complicated start for the 2023-2024 velvet season has got more complicated with the late test for frozen velvet’s China access from 1 May 2024.

The challenges will continue for us all in 2024, but possibly there will be fewer of them with the new government now in place.

We’ll be back with our February edition. Until then, we’d like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

The DINZ office will be closed from 22 December and reopening with limited staff on 3 January 2024. From 15 January, everyone will be at work, charged and ready for the continued challenges 2024 might throw at us.

Top ↑


Top ↑


Click on the bold links below to get more information about any of the events.

Top ↑

Back to Industry News