Otago 5yr-old reigns at velvet nationals

Otago 5yr-old reigns at velvet nationals

Friday, December 18, 2020

A 13.38 kg head of velvet from Greg Oliver’s red stag Benda was the big talking point at the 2020 NZ National Velvet and Trophy Antler Competition held in Invercargill last week.

It won first place in the 5 yr-old section and also took out the supreme Open Champion award. The crowd attending the awards agreed with the judges, voting the head winner of the People’s Choice prize.


Palmerston velvet farmer Greg Oliver with the People’s Choice Award for the velvet from his 5 yr-old stag Benda that also won the 5 yr red and overall champion trophies at the 2020 Velvet & Hard Antler Nationals in Invercargill

Oliver, who has been farming deer for 40 years at Palmerston in Otago, runs 1000 velvet stags and 500 hinds. He uses velvet genetics from a range of top studs including Netherdale, Arawata, Brock and Tower. He cut just over 6 tonnes of velvet this year and expects closer to 7 tonnes next year as his herd matures.

This year’s success came as no surprise to Oliver, who says the same head had earlier “cleaned up” at the local South Canterbury/North Otago velvet competition. “It wasn’t the heaviest head on the night but everything was just about perfect – you couldn’t fault it. He’s a popular stag now. We’ve already had a lot of orders for semen for the next breeding season.”

Oliver has enjoyed success before at the nationals with Joseph, a stag previously co-owned with Brock Deer. That stag’s velvet won the 2016 Open Red Velvet section and was also reserve champion that year.

Joseph’s sons carried on their sire’s success in 2020: Lazarus (co-owned by Hawke’s Bay’s Forest Road Farm and Top Rocky Deer) won the 4 yr red Section at the nationals after category wins at the earlier Hawke’s Bay and North Island velvet competitions. Co-owner Grant Charteris of Forest Road Farm said they had a successful AI programme with the stag this year, resulting in more than 100 pregnancies.

“Lazarus went from cutting 8.9 kg of velvet as a 3 yr-old to 10.9 kg at four years, despite the very tough conditions caused by the 2020 Hawke’s Bay drought. We’re very pleased with him.”

Another Joseph son entered by Dalmore Deer took third place in this year’s 5 yr red category with a 14.8 kg head of velvet.

The influence of a top sire was also seen with the success of two sons of Totara, owned by Lindsay Tayles of Riverton. Tayles won the 3 yr red section with a head just shy of 10 kg from one Totara son, stag 7649. Another Totara son, Corona, took second place for Tayles in the 4 yr red section.

Totara himself had achieved top three placings for six years on the trot, from 2014 to 2019.

This year’s open red velvet section winner was Rata Peak Station, Geraldine, with a 12.9 kg head from 9 yr-old stag, Walter.

The Elk Wapiti categories were once again dominated by Southland’s Tikana Wapiti and Canterbury’s Whyte Farming.

Tikana’s evergreen wapiti bull Nepia, still going strong at age 11, won the Elk Supreme section with a head of 25.28 kg, just 20 grams lighter than his winning head from 2019. Whyte Farming was second with a 22.86 kg head from WP871.

Tikana (Prophecy) and Whyte Farming (YY546) were also first and second respectively in the Three Year Elk Wapiti section.

Tikana made it a clean sweep of the Elk Wapiti velvet categories with a win in the 4 yr-old section by Niwa, followed by Clachanburn Station’s Tombstone in second place and Raincliff Station’s 16-82 in third.

Whyte Farming’s previous strong form in the Elk Wapiti trophy antler sections continued, with wins in both the typical (YB950) and non-typical (Y129) categories. Whyte also won the Fallow trophy antler award.

The Red trophy antler section was won by Crowley Deer with a massive head with 7725/8 measured inches of antler from the relatively young 4 yr-old stag, Texas. Owner Todd Crowley, who last year achieved an all-time record price at auction of $390,000, commented that today’s trophy stags are maturing much faster than their predecessors. He said Texas’s royal tynes (tops) are his strength. The head was also named trophy antler champion in the awards.

The 2020 NZ National Velvet and Trophy Antler Competition was organised and hosted by the Southland Branch of the NZ Deer Farmers’ Association with PGG Wrightson again providing support as main sponsor.