This year’s stag sales “went very well”

Feb 16, 2024

This year’s December-January stag sales saw more interest in elk and wapiti and good prices being paid for quality sires, with three three-year-olds selling for over $100,000.

PGG Wrightson’s deer specialist Graham Kinsman, whose team handled most of them, reports, “all in all, they went very well.”

At $114,000, Brock Deer’s trophy-velvet sire 662BL20, now known as Kinsman, was this year’s top seller.

Venison had a good round of sales this year, especially for wapiti and elk, he notes. He also noticed more velvet and trophy buyers coming forward.

Good averages were paid for the Wapiti/elk sires at five sales, organised by PGG Wrightson and held at Raincliff Station, Edendale, Littlebourne, Tikana and Clachanburn. The average price paid across those sales was $6,416.

The top price paid for a wapiti bull was $23,000 at Dave Lawrence and Donna Day’s Southland Tikana Wapiti stud. This was a lift of $8,000 on their top price last year. Across the 17 stags sold on the day, Tikana’s buyers spent an average of 28.3 percent more than last year.

Most of the buyers at the elk-wapiti sales were larger operators, Kinsman notes.

“They’re not just buying ones and twos, they’re buying in fives and 10s, so it’s more your large-scale commercial venison operator running them on terrain more suitable to breeding and finishing – wide open country,” he says.

However, in his opinion, it’s too early to say that people have “taken a swing towards investing in wapiti-elk.” This is even though there have been some good elk-wapiti contracts from some of the marketing companies, which is “a very positive change for the wapiti-cross producers.”

Velvet-trophy buyers looking to improve genetics

There aren’t many newcomers to the velvet-trophy industry currently who, Kinsman says, may “be looking for a nice tidy head of velvet, under seven kg.”

Predominantly, “the older established units are producing velvet-trophy genetics equivalent to the middle order of most studs, always looking to improve their breeding. The buyers’ focus is now on the top-end sale line-up,” he says.

“When a good one comes up, the hotter the competition from bidders.”

The smaller venison producer, on highly productive country, is “really just about a thing of the past,” he says.

To be competitive today, with increased prices and inflation, “we should be up more like $12/kg. But, at the moment in comparison to sheep prices, venison looks like a very good alternative.”

Stag sale highlights: Brock Deer first stud to sell two $100,000+ three-year-old stags

Highlights from the 20-plus sales held around the country included a first for the deer sector. Southland stud Brock Deer sold two three-year-old stags on 10 January for over $100,000 apiece at the same sale, organised by Rural Livestock Agents.

Brock Deer’s top sale – and in fact the top price paid nationwide this season – was a red deer trophy/velvet sire, 662BL20, that went for the highest price ever received by the stud, $114,000.

Kinsman, who was part of the successful four-person North/South Island syndicate to buy the young sire, describes it as the “next generation trophy/velvet stag”.

He says the stag – which has now been renamed ‘Kinsman’ – has “incredible presence.” It is “beautifully proportioned, with a relatively clean, multi-pointed wide head, grown on a big 250-260kg body.”

Velvet from 752BL20 shown by Anna Brock.

The stag, “a trophy genetic bank”, is heading to a well-known Canterbury property for the early part of his life and then will move to the North Island.

The other Brock Deer highlight, 752BL20 a velvet breeding sire stag, was “the first of Lazarus’ high-performing progeny that we’ve offered,” says co-owner Elliot Brock.

He and his father Eddie Brock were “stoked” to have cleared all of this year’s offered 30 stags at an average of $21,500.

“The guys that are producing lots of velvet and lots of trophy are wanting to improve their genetic base,” he explains. “With expenses being so high, you have to produce more to try and keep up. The best way to get ahead is to have better production.”

With this year’s two-year-old velvet stags cutting at an average of 5.08kgs – with six cutting at over eight kgs – “the best we’ve ever had by a mile,” he’s expecting next year’s three-year-olds to be “even better” than this year’s.

Award-winning velvet from Netherdale’s 183/20 was on display at the National Velvet & Trophy Competition.

Around 300 people attended Netherdale Deer Studs’ thirty-seventh and final sale in Southland in mid-January to witness the top bid of $100,000 being made on behalf of Wilkins Farming to secure lot 12, 183/20 a three-year-old elite and award-winning sire stag.

Velvet from the stag, bred by owners David and Lynley Stevens, had scooped the three-year-old category, the People’s Choice award and was also reserve champion in December’s National Velvet & Trophy competition. The top bid was $20,000 more than the stud’s highest price last year and the Stevens were “really pleased” with the prices paid, which averaged $19,000 across the 24 three-year-old sires sold.

What constantly surprises Graham Kinsman, as he engages with the deer farmers amidst the many hours of work that goes on behind the scenes organising the sales, is the “positivity of the people” for whom he has a huge respect.

He’s always thought of the industry as a drafting gate, “where you’ve got to be a little entrepreneurial to live and breathe deer. When you put those people together, suddenly it becomes quite a dynamic group of motivated energy.”


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