Will the New Zealand deer industry remain competitively profitable in the future?
The New Zealand Deer Industry experienced no apparent animal productivity gains in the decade leading up to 2004 while the competing red meat sectors increased productivity significantly. Compounding this issue for the deer industry was the expansion of the dairy industry that increased competition between the red meat sectors for a reducing land resource. A Deer Industry initiative proposed some industry targets in 2012 to improve on-farm productivity with an initial timeframe of 10 years. This farm system analysis compares deer enterprises against competing red meat enterprises for productivity and profitability using a farm system optimisation model. The impact of the current animal genetic gain, industry targets and alternative feed profiles on the productivity and profitability of a number of red meat enterprises around New Zealand are investigated independently using current and future predicted animal productivity levels. Current animal genetic gain for sheep and deer is predicted to increase productivity at a similar rate into the future allowing both industries to remain competitive but more profitable than they are at present. Total animal numbers will decrease in the future due to an increase in animal productivity with a fixed feed supply although total product sold will increase. The Deer Industry targets were compared against genetic gain for sheep and beef and have a similar affect in general on productivity and profitability as the current predicted genetic trends. The target of a 65 kg carcass limited the profitability of the deer enterprises but when this target was removed profitability increased significantly with the optimal carcass weight being between 59-60 kg’s. Using alternative feed supplies significantly increased profitability through increasing animal numbers and consequently product sold. The use of lucerne on the intensive land was at or near the maximum allowable limit suggesting that in some situations more lucerne would still be beneficial to the system if topography allowed cultivation. The use of nitrogen on the extensive land was also frequent. The future for the Deer Industry looks promising assuming that market schedules and pricing are stable and close to the current five year average used for this analysis. The current predictions indicate that an increase in the amount of product sold will occur despite a decrease in total deer numbers due to an increase in carcass weight. There is potential for further expansion in the number of deer on-farm with the use of alternative feed profiles but the markets will need to remain stable and be able to cope with an increase in product if this is to occur.... [Show full abstract]