New Zealand deer breeders have made rapid genetic progress in growth traits over the previous decade. A farm-systems analysis was performed using real growth data, to compare sires of differing breed-type and genetic merit for growth traits. Scenarios used red deer maternal sires, of average or high genetic merit, and wapiti terminal sires of high genetic merit. The base scenario of all average-genetic-merit maternal sires was compared against all other systems. Capital stock numbers were adjusted to maintain starting winter pasture covers and total average pasture covers to be as similar as possible; all other core parameters were kept consistent. All high-growth merit scenarios were 6.1%-8.4% more profitable. Median age to slaughter decreased by between 37-61 days, resulting in an increase in average sale value ($/kg) of 5.5%-7.7%. Average carcass weights increased by 2.7%-4.2% with an increase in efficiency (kg product/kg DM consumed) of 1.6%-3.1% over the base scenario. These gains in productivity, profit-ability and efficiency, relative to the base scenario were all achieved with reductions of between 5.6% and 8.0% in the capital hind base. This farm-systems analysis demonstrates that there are favourable gains to be made by deer farmers investing in genetics for improved growth traits.

JF, Ward, and BR Thompson

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 77, Rotorua, 117-120, 2017
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