DINZ news in brief | Issue 107

Mar 14, 2024

Click a heading below or scroll down to read


In Brief

Shorts >>

Events >>

Putting on the Ritz for the New Zealand deer industry in Shanghai

Shanghai’s five-star Ritz-Carlton Pudong hotel was the venue for a very special New Zealand deer industry dinner on 13 March.

Chef Wu, New Zealand venison's new brand ambassador in China, pictured here during his recent New Zealand visit, is culinary director for several restaurants in Shanghai, including Pinyeuting (‘Tasting Room’).

Around 25 guests – important trade contacts, customers and media – were hosted by DINZ executive chair Mandy Bell and markets manager Rhys Griffiths for a ‘Six Hands’ dinner in the hotel’s ‘Jin Xuan’ Michelin-starred restaurant.

Aside from discussing important business around frozen velvet access, they were treated to an “unforgettable menu, showcasing the flexibility of New Zealand venison and deer velvet,” says DINZ assistant markets manager Virginia Connell, who was at the dinner in her first China market visit, focused on future venison marketing plans for China.

The menu will be created by New Zealand venison’s new brand ambassador in China, Xijin Wu, working alongside DINZ executive chef Graham Brown – who by that time had been in Shanghai for a few days already meeting chefs – and the hotel’s executive chef Andy McKee. Each created two dishes.

After China, Bell, Griffiths, Connell and Brown will then move on to Korea for meetings with key contacts, including importers and health food companies. Like Connell, Brown will be making his first visit to Korea and he will work with DINZ representatives JongKyu Jang and Fintan Cannon on a number of venison-related activities while there.

Taipei will be the additional and final stop for Griffiths and Connell before they head home on 25 March.

Top ↑

No single recipe for successful weaning, farming seminar hears 

Weaning is the current focus for many deer farmers who are getting ready for the year ahead. A recent farmer-led seminar in Hawke's Bay concentrated on how to do it successfully, minimising stress for hinds, fawns and the farmer.

Guy Wilson explaining the approach to weaning on his Tikokino farm. Photo: Tony Leggett.

The best weaning strategies depend on the property, manager and production systems, the 60 or so participants at the NZ Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA)-organised “Deer 2 Succeed” field day in Tikokino heard in mid-February.

Visits to two deer farms, a presentation from AgResearch deer scientist Dr David Stevens and smaller group sessions facilitated by local veterinarians Camille Flack and Richard Hilson, were included in the programme.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach, attendees heard, but they came away with some useful tips. Among them: the pre-rut weaning advantages for both fawns and hinds; weaning on sunny days; and that adult ‘nanny’ hinds have a settling influence.

All and more are featured in-depth in the latest Deer Industry News magazine – already out online and in mailboxes next week.

The seminar had been designed by the NZDFA’s Hawke’s Bay branch after a suggestion from the NZDFA national executive member Karen Middelberg, but delayed for a year by Cyclone Gabrielle. Feedback shows the farmer-led initiative had “practical value” for participants, says HB branch chair Evan Potter.

Organising the event was made easier by a grant from the producer manager’s Community Engagement Fund, which partially funded the hiring of a facilitator, along with a co-ordinator, he explained. The balance was made up from branch funds.

Potter urges other branches to use the information to set up their own events, reflecting their regional differences.

For more information about the Community Engagement Fund, contact DINZ producer manager, phone 027 668 0141.

Top ↑

Transporting hinds or weaners?

Doing weaning well will minimise any stress for the hinds and fawns, especially around transport. 

Weaners at AgResearch Invermay. Photo: Jamie Ward.

Farmers are being reminded that there is a useful Deer Fact – ‘Best practice weaning management’ – available online at the Deer Hub, for those wanting expert advice on how to do it well.

The DeerQA Transport Standards only allow the transport of deer at weaning from farm to farm, and with a maximum duration of six hours, including yarding.

The standards also recommend that all deer should be weaned for at least ten days before being transported. This is to allow them to get used to being without their mothers, before having to cope with the additional stress of transport.

If deer are transported less than ten days after weaning, then they cannot be moved on the same unit as their mothers, or sent to auction or saleyards. This is due to the additional stress that is involved, which increases the risk of poor animal welfare.

It pays to follow best practice and do everything possible to minimise stress to the animals, before, during and after the journey.

Top ↑

Deer farmers’ environmental excellence in the spotlight 

Deer farming environmental excellence was in the mix that led to High Peak Station winning the Canterbury regional supreme award in this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards last week. 

The supreme award-winning Guild and Dunbar team with James Guild MNZM (left) and Hamish Guild (fourth from left).

Owners James Guild MNZM, who started the deer operation in the 1970s, and his son Hamish Guild who now manages the station, are “absolutely delighted” with the win presented last Thursday night, reports the latter, “particularly for Mum and Dad who have given us so much.”

Today, deer are still an important part of the three species high-country operation with a herd of around 3,500 red deer producing venison and four tonnes of velvet a year, along with 1,000 weaners annually for the finishing market. 

These run over the 3,760 hectare (3,450 effective) property, managed by an eight-way extended and multi-generational Guild-Dunbar family partnership, each bringing strengths to ensure a sustainable and robust approach to the management of four different businesses, the judges noted.

Strategic planning, spanning multiple generations, not only enhanced the core business but also has resulted in successful diversification, the judges noted. There was a strong focus on adding value and a strive toward high-end products and experiences, along with protecting and enhancing the environment.

High Peak was one of the most diverse high-country businesses the judges had encountered, with the Guild and Dunbar families proud of the judges’ assessment that they are, “true guardians of the land who champion environmental stewardship and advocate for sustainable farming practices”.

The Guild-Dunbars also collected the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award, the Rabobank Agri-business Management Award, the NZFET Biodiversity Award, the NZFET Climate Recognition Award and the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award.

Top ↑

NZDFA needs YOU: committee nominations close 22 March

There is still time for nominations to be made for this year’s four Association NZDFA-appointed positions and also a producer-appointed spot on the DINZ board.

Those who feel they can contribute to shaping the industry’s future and who are looking for leadership experience are encouraged to apply for any of the vacant positions BEFORE 4pm on Friday 22 March 2024.

More details and nomination forms are available from DINZ producer manager Lindsay Fung,, phone 04 473 3500, or can be downloaded here.

Top ↑

DINZ executive: Strong interest in DINZ CEO position

The search is still underway for the new DINZ chief executive and has just started for a new in-house communications manager.

There has been “strong interest” in the DINZ chief executive position,” and interviews are ongoing, reports DINZ executive chair Mandy Bell. She has stepped temporarily into the role during the transition to a new chief executive.

Applicants are particularly interested in the deer industry, “because of our whole value chain approach from producer to market. They are seeing significant opportunities in the industry,” she says.

During the transition period, enquiries for the DINZ chief executive should be directed to Bell, who can be contacted via the DINZ office numbers.

Other enquiries can be directed to the relevant members of the DINZ senior leadership team:

Communications is an important role for DINZ. Ali Spencer has advised her intention to retire later this year from her external part-time public relations role with DINZ, which involves editing this publication, among other things. To carry on the work and manage the growing workload, the DINZ board has decided to bring the part-time role in-house. The communications manager position has been advertised, and is also attracting very strong interest. Interviews will take place in the near future.

We will keep you up to date with developments.

Top ↑

Cenwynn’s off on parental leave

DINZ’s untiring NZDFA coordinator Cenwynn Philip (pictured) will be heading off on parental leave from 24 April. We thank her for all her hard work and wish her all the best for the arrival of her new family member.

While she’s away, NZDFA enquiries should be directed to, phone 04-473 4500 or to DINZ producer manager, 027 668 0141. 

Top ↑



The 2024 Deer Industry Photo Competition is still open

Captured any great deer shots on-farm, or round and about the sector, or thinking of heading out to take some? If so, DINZ would love to see them!

A reminder that entries are still open for the 2024 MSD/Allflex Deer Industry Photo Competition, which offers the usual three cash prizes: $500 for the first place; $150 for the second place winner; $100 for third; and a premium gift pack for ‘People’s Choice’.

A new category is also making its debut this year. The new Elk Wapiti NZ (EWNZ) award has been sponsored by the Elk Wapiti Society. Photographs must feature a pheno-typical Elk-Wapiti and will reward the winner with a $150 cash prize and free one-year membership to EWNZ. For this year only, entry for this award category will be free.

Deadline for entries: 5.00pm, Friday 12 April 2024.

More information and entry forms >>

Top ↑

Register for the 2024 Deer Industry Conference 2024

Plans are shaping up for conference, this year themed “An Incredible Legacy – the past, the present, the future.” Organisers are busy behind the scenes making arrangements for the industry’s descent on Napier’s War Memorial Centre on 8 and 9 May.


Conference will be held in the Napier War Memorial Centre on 8 May, followed by the conference dinner – always a highlight. On 9 May, the Hawke’s Bay NZDFA will host a field day.  

It will be a great opportunity to network with peers and make new industry acquaintances.

A sneak peek at the programme reveals Wednesday morning presentations looking at the state of the industry and venison and velvet market updates, plus an opportunity to question DINZ board members. The afternoon will be filled with four workshop sessions (topics to be advised) and two guest speakers (Rabobank and Murray Matuschka).

This year’s Matuschka Award, Deer Industry Award and Deer Industry Photo Competition winners will all be announced at the conference gala dinner – nominations are still open!

NZDFA Hawke’s Bay’s branch team are teeing up a great farm visit for Thursday 9 May, branch chair Evan Potter reports. More information on that later.

Many thanks to all of the conference supporters, most recently joined by platinum sponsor Silver Fern Farms. Premium sponsors are First Light, Alliance, FMG, Gallagher and Ospri. Tier 2: Rabobank, Datamars Livestock and Farmax/FarmIQ. Tier 3: Duncan Venison.

Conference sponsorship interest can be registered with Melissa Bähler, phone 027 664 3080.

For up-to-date information about the programme, award nominations, registration and accommodation click here.

For all other queries, contact, phone 04 473 4500.

Thanks to our conference sponsors:


Top ↑


Top ↑


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

Top ↑

Back to Industry News