“Deer 2 Succeed” HBDFA Branch | Issue 197

Mar 15, 2024

Well, the Hawkes Bay Branch finally managed to have their day. The event was originally planned for February 14th, 2023. Unfortunately, given the very wet season Hawkes Bay was having, the forecast 50-100ml of rain meant getting around farms safely would be marginal and the decision was made to call it off at the eleventh hour – which turned out to be a good call. No one would have been able to even get to the starting point as we woke to the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle and a lot more precipitation than anyone could have imagined.

The resilient bunch that we Hawkes Bay farmers are meant that a wee cyclone wasn’t going to put us off, so exactly 12-months to the original date we finally held our event. The weather could not have been more different with a windless, cloudless, hot, dry day.

The theme for Deer 2 Succeed was “weaning”. After registration and adornment of name badges everyone jumped into utes and headed off into the depths of Tikokino to visit Tuivale, run by Guy and Lilly Wilson, and Kanui, run by Thomas and Julia Wilson (not related by the way, just a lot of Wilsons in CHB). Both farms are intergenerational properties with the enthusiasm for deer farming since the 80’s still running strong. We had a good look around the farm’s facilities and a quick tour to see the lay of the land. Both Guy and Thomas gave us a rundown of their weaning practises including pre-wean treatments, hind management, animal health considerations, as well as what worked well for them and things they have changed. This session was facilitated by Richard Hilson who had been their practicing veterinarian for many years before recently becoming a full-time farmer.

What a difference a year makes. Out on Tuivale.

Shed discussion at Kanui.

The group then headed back to the Onga Tiko Rugby Club rooms for a lunch provided by the Hawkes Bay Branch before settling into the afternoon discussion session.

David Stevens from AgResearch started the afternoon giving a presentation on good nutritional management at weaning and factors to consider depending on the weaning method used. This included a discussion on the pros and cons of pre-rut and post-rut weaning.

Participants then had the opportunity to talk about what they did and the positives and negatives they had experienced. This session was facilitated by Dr Camille Flack from Vet Services Hawkes Bay, who is also a deer farmer, and with the science, veterinary and farming expertise in the room enabled informative discussions around topics bought up.

Down to business – comparing sizes (…of hind herds)

The day was wrapped up with a quiz and prizes to check who was paying attention and so a few bottles of wine and chocolate frogs were disseminated around the room. A thank you needs to go out to Justin and Rebecca Stevens from Marlborough who donated some of the wine.

Finally, a BBQ and drinks was enjoyed by everyone, giving the opportunity to discuss everything else that needed discussing.

So as a round up I would say Deer 2 Succeed was a resounding success for the HBDFA: we had a great day out with a good mix of information, education and socialisation, no regulations or politics were on the agenda.

The day was the result of many hands, our very able facilitators, the HBDFA committee's hard work, the generosity of our local farmers, the expertise of the animal health and science experts and the sponsorship from the HBDFA, Firstlight & Silver Fern Farms and the Producer Manager community engagement fund.

The goal of Deer 2 Succeed was to provide a local branch event that could be replicated by other DFA Branches if they wanted to and so we will be providing a template to Lindsay Fung, our Producer Manager, should any other branch want to run a similar day. We incorporated a paid coordinator and facilitator into the budget to take the pressure off busy Branch members. Our hope is an event like this brings our DFA community together. The value and strength of this community has been so apparent in Hawkes Bay in the last twelve months post cyclone, and so as well as an opportunity to pass knowledge around, days like this provide connection. It was important that the topic chosen was a topic farmers wanted to hear about as well.

It was super cool to see those farmers who had travelled from out of the district, two farmers entering the industry, stock agents and industry representatives join us for the day. I would also like to thank the support provided by the NZDFA Executive Committee in the concept of this idea to get our Branches thriving.

I hope everyone’s weaning has gone well this year and that mating goes smoothly.

- Karen Middelberg, NZDFA Executive Committee and HBDFA Branch Committee

Continue reading DFA Stagline Issue 197, next: Rising Stars – Te Awamutu, Season 2 >>

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