The deer industry runs interesting and informative programmes about sustainable, profitable deer farming for farmers, farm staff, rural professionals and for younger people interested in exploring a career in the industry. Excellent information resources are available in the Deer Hub section of this website.
Core deer industry programmes are managed by Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) and funded by levies paid on venison and velvet. Some important programmes are co-funded by government agencies, such as MPI’s Primary Growth Partnership and MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures.
The most significant of these is Passion 2 Profit (P2P), a joint deer industry/MPI programme that funds new venison market development, Advance Parties, Deer Industry Environmental Groups and a number of other initiatives (see below).
It is important, as a small industry, to be cohesive and to make best use of industry resources. To this end, the national management and administration of the NZ Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA), the farmer representative organisation, are staffed and funded by DINZ.
Advance Parties are small groups of farmers working together to share their productivity and environmental challenges and come up with answers.
They also provide a morale-boosting support network in which farmers can share ideas and concerns in a supportive environment. During times of crisis, Advance Parties work closely with the local branch of the NZDFA to support individual farmers in the area.
DINZ provides a rural professional to organise each group and to make sure each participant gets value out of their attendance, and will fund some outside expertise if it is required.
The first Advance Party was set up in 2014. Now there is one or more Advance Party in each farming region, each with its own focus, as agreed among its members.
The name Advance Party is used to differentiate these groups from traditional ‘Farm Discussion Groups’. An Advance Party is not primarily about ‘discussion’. Members are committing to personal and farm business development, and sharing their plans, methods, plans, data, results, problems and successes.
To read more about Advance Parties, click here >>
DINZ set-up the first Deer Industry Environmental Groups (DIEG) in 2018 to assist farmers to identify and adopt measures that result in great environmental outcomes, with a focus on achieving better stream water quality. These groups involve farmers helping each other to identify tools and actions that work in real farm situations, with some professional guidance when needed.
An initial target was to help all deer farmers draw-up and implement a Farm Environment Plan before there was a legal obligation to do so. By early 2021, around two-thirds of deer farms had a FEP, but by then the government and regional councils were in the process of making them compulsory. There was also an obligation under the Zero Carbon Act and He Waka Eke Noa [link to website] for all farmers and growers to know their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission numbers and have a plan to manage their emissions by the end of 2022.
DINZ, as part of the P2P programme, is encouraging all deer farmers who need assistance with drawing up a FEP, calculating their GHG numbers and anything else that will benefit the farm environment to participate in a local DIEG.
To read more about Environmental Groups, click here >>
Deer Tech Expos connect farmers with technical experts and service providers for a deer-focussed, day of learning. Topic experts give short sharp presentations on new technology or management techniques and how they be used to improve deer farm profitability, deer welfare and environmental sustainability.
Commercial firms offering products and services to deer farmers are encouraged to set up booths at the venues for farmers to visit during smoko and lunch breaks.
Initiated by the NZDFA, one Expo a year is funded by P2P with the support of local NZDFA branches. Expos have been held in Gore, Ashburton, Invercargill and Feilding.
Upcoming Expos will be advertised on this website in Events >>
In the interests of industry cohesion and efficiency, DINZ provides funding and executive staff for the NZDFA. This is based on a service agreement signed in 2003 and updated from time to time.
Nevertheless, DINZ and the NZDFA are constitutionally separate. The NZDFA is accountable to its voluntary subscription paying deer farmer members and DINZ is accountable to all industry players, especially to levy payers: farmers and the processors and marketers of venison and velvet.
Two DINZ staff members make up a producer support team that:
- Liaises with NZDFA branches nationwide and the NZDFA’s national Executive Committee. Convenes and services the committee’s regular face-to-face and on-line meetings
- Represents deer farmer interests at an industry level: with DINZ, NAIT/OSPRI, government agencies and NGOs
- Advocates for deer farmers with regional councils and central government, either on its own behalf or jointly with DINZ
- Co-ordinates national NZDFA events and activities, including the Next Generation conference (August each year)
- Co-ordinates the annual Deer Industry Conference and the two NZDFA branch chairs’ meeting (May associated with the conference and a two-day event in October based in Wellington)
- Co-ordinates NZDFA constitutional activities, including voting for national office holders and convening the Selection & Appointment Panel for the selection of NZDFA nominees to the DINZ board
- Publishes the monthly NZDFA e-letter Stagline Online. Provides NZDFA content for the industry magazine, Deer Industry News.
Despite the close integration of the NZDFA and DINZ, individual farmers are able to have their voices heard at NZDFA branch meetings, the NZDFA Annual Meeting and the Deer Industry Conference.
There is also an open door policy for stakeholders at DINZ. Anyone who has a concern, or wants something clarified, is welcome to pick up the phone and have a talk to the relevant person in the NZDFA or DINZ teams.
Tel: 027 668 0141
Communications and Administration Coordinator
Tel: 027 326 1213
For more about the NZDFA and the benefits of membership, click here >>
Regional Workshops bring Advance Parties (APs) together with other deer farmers to work on specific farming topics to help farmers achieve their farm business goals and to meet environmental and other challenges. AP members share their practical experience with other deer farmers in the region. The workshops are an integral part of the P2P programme and – unlike Advance Parties – are public events open to farmers, other rural professionals and the farming media.
To find out more about Regional Workshops, click here >>
The management of farmed deer is different in many respects to the management of sheep and cattle. However, most rural professionals have limited exposure to deer farming systems, biology, nutrition and products during their academic or practical training.
DINZ has therefore initiated through the P2P programme intensive one-day workshops for rural professionals. These have been shown to meet a real need, with most workshops over-subscribed.
The workshops are designed for non-deer specialists involved in providing advice to farmers with deer. These include agronomists, farm consultants, fertiliser company reps, rural bankers, veterinary clinic staff, rural accountants and other rural service providers.
- Deer industry production and products
- Deer farming management practices
- Environmental management
- The nature of deer and their differences from other livestock species
- Analysis of real data
- Deer farming profitability analysis
- Tour of a working deer farm
To find out more about the Rural Professionals workshops, click here >>
The NZDFA and DINZ have made a special effort to train and motivate a new generation of young people wanting to work at all levels of the deer farming industry. This is crucial for industry succession planning and to ensure that farmers have access to professional advice that is relevant to deer farming.
- Big Deer Tour
- Future Deer Farmers Experience
- Next Generation programme
- Innovation Group
- NZDFA New Faces initiative
The Big Deer Tour
DINZ has initiated the Big Deer Tour to provide future rural professionals with an opportunity to find out what the deer industry has to offer. It is funded through the P2P programme.
During the tour a small group of students gets to see the deer industry from top to bottom; to see what makes the deer industry special and to meet professionals providing services to this sector. To be eligible, applicants must be students studying toward completing a masters or degree in an agricultural-related discipline.
All costs are covered, including transport, accommodation and a $200 allowance for additional expenses. Applications normally open and close in mid- to late-March each year, with a 4-day tour during April. Big deer tour participants also are invited to join a BDT alumnus for longer-term comnnection with the deer industry
To find out more about the Big Deer Tour, click here >>
Future Deer Farmers Experience
The Future Deer Farmers Experience was initiated by DINZ and the NZDFA, as part of the P2P programme. It provides four students studying toward a diploma or certificate in agriculture or farm management with a close look at our special industry. Those who have attended deer husbandry courses can also apply. University students are not eligible.
The week-long experience takes place in August each year. The selected students have all costs for transport, meals and accommodation paid for. During the experience they spend time working with and learning from:
- Awesome deer farmers
- Venison, velvet and co-product marketing companies
- The NZDFA Next Generation conference attendees
To find out more about the Future Deer Farmers Experience, click here >>
Next Generation programme
The NZDFA initiated the Next Generation Programme in 2012. This is a two-day event held for young deer farmers in August each year. It involves speakers, workshops, farm visits and a great social programme designed to help the next generation build networks across the industry.
The programme has its own Facebook page that helps maintain those networks and is a go-to place for peer-to-peer advice.
To find out more about the Next Generation programme, click here >>
Since 2018 DINZ has been bringing together 40 young farmers and rural professionals each year for an advanced session on business planning and personal development.
The Innovation Group provides potential future industry leaders with the opportunity to work on projects that will help shape them personally and professionally. Workshops have been held with business strategists, performance psychologists and leaders from the commercial world.
Most participants in this group are ‘shoulder-tapped’ by industry leaders and invited to participate. But if you or one of your farm team are interested in participating in the Innovation Group, please contact the DINZ chief executive officer.
NZDFA New Faces initiative
A fresh crop of ‘new faces’ is hosted at the NZDFA branch chairs meeting in October each year and is actively encouraged to attend the Deer Industry Conference the following May.
Between six and 10 NZDFA branch nominees are chosen to receive financial assistance to participate each year. The initiative aims to bring new, interested people into the industry leadership structure, to expose existing leaders to the views of a younger generation and broaden the understanding of the next generation that the deer industry is wider than behind the farm gate.”
Candidates are encouraged to go on to further leadership training, such as the Kellogg Rural Leadership Course.
If you or one of your farm team are interested in participating in the New Faces initiative, please contact the chair of your local NZDFA branch >>