The Deer Industry Association of Australia Ltd. may not agree with opinions expressed in the “Australian Deer Farming” but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless stated, and the DIAA accepts no liability for any matter in the magazine. Although every care is taken with advertising matter, no responsibility whatsoever can be accepted for the products, services and other matters advertised. Letters and editorial should be of interest to our readers and should not be used to promote a particular individual, product or commercial venture.
Editor/Advertising. Andy Cowan.
03 5774 7403
Quote FOR THE MONTH.
Vegetarian is an old Indian word meaning “bad hunter.” — Anonymous
A couple of Rockland’s weaners destined for the meat market.
From The Editor
You should have recently received a letter from Nigel Barry, the Chairman of ADH & Co Products. In his letter, Nigel outlined the reasons why ADH is subcontracting the operations of the Velvet Pool this year. The letter, reproduced on P4, explained that ADH has contracted the operation of this season’s Velvet Pools to Tasman Velvet Processors (TVP). TVP is a New Zealand company. ADH has dealt with it in the past (2009) when TVP joined forces with PGG Wrightson Velvet (PGW) to form a new company NZ Velvet Marketing Co Ltd. TVP’s strength is in processing and marketing. The company has been in business for about 30 years. Its Australian representative is Andrew McKinnon. Of course, there will be other buyers roaming around looking for velvet but I would hope that many of us would be prepared to support ADH, as it is one of the “constants” of our industry. If we can learn one thing from recent New Zealand experiences in velvet marketing, it would be that the wheel does not necessarily need to be reinvented.
In the President’s Report, Andrew Hansen has given us a timely reminder of our responsibilities to our stock. The question of how to treat a sickly calf has always concerned me. Fortunately, they do not appear all that often so I can get on with other farm jobs - velvetting, hay and silage making, pasture renovation etc. It is a busy time of the year and, to further complicate things, there is the Christmas “break”. Also, we live in Australia - be prepared for bushfires.
There is a push in the UK to try to control the wild deer population. Currently, there are an estimated two million deer wild in Britain. The argument is that such large numbers of deer are at risk of disease, starvation and being hit by cars (an estimated 40,000 to 70,000 are killed on the roads each year). It appears that the majority of wild deer are “managed” by landowners, including the Forestry Commission and the Ministry of Defence, who cull around 300,000 a year. It is believed that, to even keep the population at its current level, another 200,000 need to be shot annually. Until recently, around 80 per cent of Britain’s culled venison has been exported to the continent. At the same time, supermarkets were importing venison from New Zealand. With the exchange rates at existing levels, exporters from Australia and New Zealand might welcome this idea. See hypothetical on P.16.
The welfare of farmed animals is constantly in the news. Most recently, there were problems with live sheep exports to the Middle East, and raids on piggeries in NSW by animal rights groups. Both of these exposed major acts of animal cruelty.
With calving/fawning and velvetting in full swing, I thought it was time we all reflected on the welfare of our animals.
The RSPCA believes that an animal’s welfare should be considered in the terms of five freedoms. These are:
1. Freedom from thirst and hunger- provide water and a suitable diet;
2. Freedom from discomfort – provide a suitable environment with shelter and rest areas;
3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease- preventing by rapidly diagnosing and treating;
4. Freedom to express normal behaviour-provide sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind;
5. Freedom from fear and distress- – ensure that conditions and treatment avoid mental suffering.
These freedoms will be better provided for if those who have care of livestock practice:
-caring and responsible planning and management;
-skilled, knowledgeable and conscientious animal management;
-appropriate environmental design;
-considerate handling and transport;
Our National Velvet Accreditation Scheme provides us with an excellent guide to satisfy welfare requirements. So, abide by the rules, follow the procedures, and operate as if someone was looking over your shoulder.
Regularly monitor your mobs of calving/fawning females. If you are unable to yard and treat a hind/doe with a dystocia, don’t let her suffer. Dispatch her rather than let her die a slow death from toxaemia.
We have been told to expect a long, hot and dry summer. Please ensure adequate shade and shelter in the maternity paddocks for the fawns. Review your property fire plan of course.
If you have not joined/ re-joined the DIAA this year please, consider doing so. We need your subscriptions to remain financially viable, and your numbers to be representative of our industry when dealing with government.
I wish you well for a profitable velvet season and a productive breeding season.
Andrew Hansen. President DIAA.
DIAA ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2013
Saturday 4th of May 2013 2PM
Quality Hotel Melbourne Airport
265 Mickleham Road Tullamarine (MELBOURNE)
P3 adverts. WFI same as last issue. Lower ad -see folder “P3 advert”
ADH Velvet Pools Information
OCTOBER 2012 Dear Velvet Growers,
Apologies for the late information relating to this year’s velvet pools however….. ADH is pleased to announce that it has contracted the operation of this season’s velvet pools to Tasman Velvet Processors.
Why have we done this?
· Falling velvet volumes have meant that the traditional model of conducting a velvet pool has become financially unviable.
· In recent years, growers have waited up to nine months for payment.
· We have sought to substantially reduce the costs of operation without compromising the security of payment afforded by the ADH pools.
· We have sought to protect the integrity of the grading system.
· We have contracted the forward sale of velvet at market prices and assured payment.
What will this mean for you?
· Payment will be received by the grower within 30 days of velvet delivery.
· Velvet prices will be available 48 hrs prior to the set pool dates.
· Two pool dates will be offered: late November and mid February.
· Handling charges will be reduced to $1-2 per kg (the final charges will be determined by the volume of velvet consigned to ADH).
· Velvet levies will be deducted from your gross payment and paid by ADH on your behalf.
· Pool 1. Will be held on Thursday November 22rd.
· Pool 2. Early February 2013 at a date to be advised.
11 Frankston-Dandenong Road
Dandenong South VIC 3175
As part of the cost reduction and streamlining of the velvet collection grading process you will need to:
1. Telephone Marika McKinnon on 03 5584 7265 or 0488 931 909 two weeks prior to the pools date and advise your approximate velvet volume and likely time of arrival.
2. Nominate that you will be selling through the ADH pools system.
3. Should you wish to direct ship your velvet for grading, please advise Marika who will provide shipping details. (Please note this shipping will be at your cost).
To make this happen in an efficient manner, we would ask that if you deliver velvet to the pools that you assist the graders with the process. This small action will assist in reducing the costs by increasing the efficiency of the total system.
If you have any questions please contact Nigel Barry on 0418 330089.
Chairman ADH & Co Products
DEAR LEVY PAYERS,
PAST AND CURRENT MEMBERS
The DIAA needs your support!
The DIAA is constantly working behind the scenes to ensure our precious and beloved industry is allowed to continue to operate in the best interests of ALL involved in the deer industry.
This includes farmers, transport operators and processors.
PLEASE HELP US HELP YOU.
BECOME A DIAA MEMBER SO WE CAN WORK TOGETHER TO BUILD AND GROW AN INDUSTRY WE HAVE ALREADY WORKED ON SO HARD TO ESTABLISH. A very important vote will take place at the next National AGM that could change the way the DIAA is structured.
Being a current financial member will make your vote COUNT!
- ROCKLANDS Sophie and Tim Hansen run a deer farm, Rocklands, situated near Orange in New South Wales. Their property is approximately 380Ha in total, of which 248ha is effective for deer. The remaining 132Ha of the property is remnant vegetation that they have fenced off. In conjunction with their local Catchment Management Authority, Sophie and Tim are monitoring this area.
Rocklands ranges from 760 metres to 940 metres above sea level, with an average rainfall of around 800mm. Growth occurs all year round but the slow months are from June to August. April is always their driest month. Unfortunately, it is probably one of their most critical months as it is normally followed by a long cool winter.
This young and enterprising couple work very closely with their neighbours (Tim’s parents) whose property Cockatoo is approximately 160ha, fully effective for deer. All the stock handling facilities are located at Cockatoo.
Approximately 80% of their property has been improved using perennial species. Native grasses make up the rest. The property is undulating to very undulating - some people may say it is steep. A mix of native trees is spread evenly over the property – namely box, stringy bark and different species of gums. There are very few introduced species of trees although blackberries feature prominently from time to time!
Rocklands runs the terminal herd and Cockatoo has the replacement herd. The replacement animals are mainly Easterns that have been bred on the properties. The majority of the original stock came from John Andrews’ property, Lantec Red Deer at Eugowra, some time ago. Although most of the original Lantec animals have gone now, Sophie and Tim are very happy with the progeny and the base that they have provided. The replacements are all joined back to Eastern stags that have either been purchased or bred on the farm. With pregnancy testing being carried out in July, the conception rate has averaged 98% over the past four years. Weaning rates are sitting at 92%.
The terminal herd in general terms is just that. These animals range from straight reds to ¾ hybrids hinds, all mated to hybrid stags. Over the past four years, the Hansens have grown this herd dramatically. Fertility suffered as a result of going too far down the hybrid path with scanning rates at 92% and weaning rates at 85%. The older cows in this mob have become non productive. Although they scan in calf and present well, their milk production and mothering is poor and inconsistent.
During a herd rebuilding stage, non-scanned females are disappointing but to be expected. However, for the Hansens, the rates of rising two-year-olds (first calvers) scanned in calf have been much lower than in the replacement mob. As an example, 85% of the replacement herd was in calf versus 70% for the hybrid herd. Tim’s concern with the larger animals is that their DSE rating is just so high. Their consumption of available feed during a non-growing season is much higher than a lighter hind. It should be taken into consideration that the lighter hind has the potential, over her total lifespan, to produce, on average, more kilograms of venison. Hence Tim’s long-term aim is to get the majority of their hinds back to the 110kg live-weight mark with improved genetics for early maturing animals.
In relation to grazing techniques, Tim states that his approach is not for everyone. His approach came about for a number of reasons - mainly financial. He hopes to move their property up the ecological succession chain. That is to say, he would like to build the diversity of the grass species that they have on their farm.
Sophie and Tim have always had a strong interest in implementing farming practices that are sustainable in terms of animal production and soil health. Three years ago this led them to adopt holistic farming principles. One section of the holistic approach uses cell (or controlled) grazing, having one large mob, which moves, through a system of small paddocks every few days. To give some perspective, the terminal herd detailed above (comprising 880 hinds plus fawns) graze in cells of approximately 2-5ha. The largest of these cells is 10ha.
The herd stays in these paddocks for a specified number of days according to the paddock rating (productivity) and whether it is in the growing or non-growing season. During the growing season, the animals are moved more quickly and during the non-growing season the rotations are slower so that the required number of rest days is achieved. Tim works on a 75-day recovery during the growing season and a 150-day period during the non-growing season with a drought buffer of 20%.
In just two years, the Hansens have seen changes on the farm with an increase in summer active native species. Under the approach, there have been significant financial savings as a result of the reduction in fertiliser usage (ad hoc top dressing). They still use artificial fertilisers but it is more planned and more strategic. A big advantage is that they can actually measure the return on the fertiliser usage as they have detailed records of the grazing performance of each paddock per season. The records include days grazed, stock density and dry matter remaining.
Although their cell-grazing plan still requires tweaking to suit deer (e.g. incorporating the stags during the rut, allowing for longer stays in certain paddocks during calving and supplementing the lactating hind’ diet with trace elements), Tim and Sophie feel very confident that this approach has moved them forward. As the animals are being handled so regularly, their behaviour has improved. Moving the larger terminal herd takes Tim around five minutes. He lays down the four or five line portable electric fence (see photos), secures it down and the herd “walks” over the wire into the fresh paddock. Tim uses a back fence for the cell to prevent the overgrazing that can occur. Animals tend to only want to go forward as they quickly learn to understand the system that fresh paddocks are ahead of them rather than going backwards into previously grazed areas.
The electric fence hardware that the Hansens use was sourced from Kiwi Tech in New Zealand. They are running an energiser that gives them around 8000 volts through the portable fence. It is very rare for animals to not respect the electric fencing. Obviously electric fences are not used in pressure areas, just for internal stock movement management. Tim has a system (see photo) mounted on the front of his 4-wheeler, which allows the construction and pull down of the fencing in quick time. The dairy industry suppliers that make this product in New Zealand say that you can erect a 400m fence in 3 minutes. At this stage, however, Tim takes about 30 mins to do 400m and around 10 minutes to pull down and remove the poly posts. Initially Tim was really unsure about how well the deer would adapt to electric fencing, but he has only ever been pleased with their response. In Tim’s experience, electric fences need to be constantly checked and maintained to be effective. Assuming everything is in good shape, Tim is extremely confident that this type of fencing is the way forward for their operation.
During calving, Tim does set stock in a paddock of around 30ha for the 90-day period. This will be their third calving using this method and they are happy with the results.
Over the past three years, Tim has kept things simple by not weaning until September. By the end of September, Tim would have usually moved all rising one-year-old males and only have left the females from that year. Last year they had moved 50% of males by the end of August, with an average carcase weight of 48kg. The Hansens were really happy about that. The other ones went during September. Obviously, any males that are sensational are kept. They see how they grow out depending on the year.
To improve running capacity across their farm, two years ago the Hansens introduced pasture cropping (running oats or other cereal crops into existing pastures to increase productivity) but Tim admits that he is yet to master this in their climate. The difference between pasture cropping and non-kill cropping is the use of a knockdown. The use of a spray-seed style chemical allows the young plant to germinate and get going, which places the seed in a good position to complete with the existing grass species on their return. Tim has been using mainly oats (trialing a range of varieties) and putting about 80kg/HA of DAP underneath. It is a timing issue and he had better results when sowing into natives during the autumn and into perennials during late summer. Opportunistic summer fodder cropping is undertaken when conditions, both seasonally and economic, align.
Tim’s approach to supplementary feeding can be summed up by his statement that he “hates feeding stock”. He changed his production system from a set stocking one so that good planning would reduce the likelihood of having to feed out animals every year. He appreciates that the deer industry is such that you can’t just de-stock and re-enter as the season allows. He knows that supplementary feeding may be required during drought times but it is the annual feeding out during winter, which makes his blood boil. Over the past four years, he has been conserving fodder and stockpiling it for drier times. Timing did not enable them to plan for the most recent drought, which had a substantial effect on the profitability of what they are doing.
The Hansens have used a few techniques to store silage. The photo shows what works best in their situation. Whereas it is certainly not as cost effective as bulk silage in pits, at this stage in their operation it works well for them. The bales are placed in sections of 50 or so, covered in plastic and then with soil about 1 foot deep. Then it is rolled for compaction to ensure that it is airtight. They have not opened these pits for the past two years (and they hope they do not need to do so for another two). When they did check, the results were really positive. “Thank goodness” says Tim, “as there is a considerable cost involved”. They have approximately 1000 bales underground and are looking to increase this when the seasons allow. Their long-term aim would be to strategically place some pits around the property rather than in a centralised area as they currently use. The advantage of doing this would be that they could potentially set up some gates and allow the animals to “self feed”, a system which seems to be effectively employed in New Zealand.
As if this was not enough to keep Tim and Sophie busy they both have “other” lives. Tim and Sophie are partners in Mandagery Creek Venison, probably the largest venison processor in Australia. Their web page www.mandagerycreek.com.au outlines some of their activities (farmers markets etc.) and it is also interesting to read Sophie’s blog “Local is Lovely” which shows off Sophie’s skills as a writer, editor and chef.
My thanks to Tim Hansen for making his thoughts and management philosophies available and supplying me with all the information necessary to include this article in the magazine.
P6 advert Same as last issue “Southern Wire”
PLEASE FORWARD ANY PROPOSED NOTICES OF MOTIONS TO: DIAA SECRETARY
4237 GLENELG HIGHWAY
STRATHDOWNIE VIC 3312
FAX : 03 5584 7374
EMAIL : firstname.lastname@example.org
CLOSING DATE :
FRIDAY 28th FEBRUARY 2013
P10 advert in Standard folder
P11 Deer Facts
About the Deer…..
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginiansis) are native to northern, central and southern America and consist of 38 subspecies. The breed is considered to be around 3½ million years old with credit to their successful survival being given to their incredible design. There was no need for them to evolve.
Next to elk, they are one of the most widely farmed species of deer in the US. Regrettably, they also have the unfortunate reputation of causing over 1.5 million vehicle collisions annually, costing over US$1 billion per year (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
White-tailed deer are easily recognized by their reddish brown coats, which turn to a slightly duller grayish brown in autumn and winter, and the distinct white markings around the eyes and top of the nose. Then there is, of course, the famous tail. As the name suggests, it is much longer than the tail of the red deer and has a characteristic white underside, which is used to signal other deer of danger.
Males (bucks) can weigh anywhere from 60kg to 130kg with females (does) weighing in at 40kg to 90kg. They average around 1 metre at shoulder height. Their tails alone can grow as long as 36.5cm.
White-tailed deer are incredibly adaptable to their habitat and they prefer foraging on forest edges, rather than in continuous areas of mature forests. They also prefer mixed conifer-hardwood forests and shrublands where they feed on grasses, twigs, leaves, wild cherry seeds, acorns and beechnuts. More recently, they have also grown quite partial to open lawns, ornamental shrubs and succulent summer gardens found in suburban neighborhoods.
In the US, their breeding season runs from mid September through to late February with fawns being born late summer after a gestation period of 200 days. The first pregnancy of a doe usually results in a single fawn however twins are quite common as they mature. Triplets are not too uncommon either, depending on the availability of food. White-tailed deer have developed a “survival strategy” where, in very bad years, a doe will not breed at all, but in a good year she will produce 2-3 fawns.
As with most other deer species, only the bucks grow antlers, however it is believed that 1 in 10,000 does will also grow antlers. The number of points, length and thickness of the antlers depend on the age and genetics of the buck. With hunting stags forming a large part of the US deer industry, genetic improvements are critical.
Deer Farming in the US
The American deer farming industry is a booming business. It generates over US$ 3 billion for the US economy and employs tens of thousands of people in rural communities across the country. The average size of a deer farm nationally is less than 100 acres running an average of 82 deer. The total number of deer farms in 2006 was 7,828, with Pennsylvania and Texas home to around 1,000 farms each. The average farm size and number of animals run/farm was a little higher in these two states. Interestingly, there are approximately 1,600 Amish operations included in the national total. They believe that deer farming provides a more profitable enterprise on a small acreage than traditional farming enterprises.
According to the Economic Impact of Pennsylvania’s Deer Farms, 72% of its farmers produce breeding stock, with only 16% farming for venison. Strangely enough, 13% of deer farmers in Pennsylvania are urine farmers..........Urine based scents were started in the 1940’s by a New York trapper who started selling it for $2 a bottle. Today, the urine business is estimated to be around $18 million annually in the US and it is used by traditional hunters as well as bow hunters who need to get close to their prey.
P12 file in Standard folder
DIRECTORS MEETING Friday 3rd of May 2013. 1.00pm
Saturday 4th of May 2013. 9.00am
Quality Hotel Melbourne Airport,
265 Mickleham Road. Tullamarine (Melbourne) XXXXXXX
SAFE AND MERRY CHRISTMAS
WE MAY NEED SOME SNOW BY THEN! P12 PIC DOC
P13 top file
NVAS ANNUAL RETURNS
Please Could All
2011-2012 Annual Audits be returned ASAP to Marika McKinnon:
4237 Glenelg Highway
Strathdownie, VIC 3312
RIRDC REPORT NOW AVAILABLE
DEER VELVET ANTLER
Research Quality and Returns through the Pools
By Ross Lawrence This report has now been finalized and
is available to all levy payers.
If you would like to obtain a copy please contact Marika McKinnon:
Phone 03 5584 7265
Fax 03 5584 7374
Deer Farmers Wanted To participate in a RIRDC Project.
For the purpose of improving velvet production / venison yields
and increased profitability per acre through genetic improvement.
FREE superior NZ semen and insemination. For details, please contact
As I was reading the story about Sophie and Tim Hansen, one of the things that struck me was their pasture. It seems to me that one of the unsung benefits of farming deer is that they are one of the best farmed animal types for pasture, and therefore, soil management. At the risk of repeating myself, I believe that the most critical aspect of farming – no matter what your choice of livestock or enterprise - is soil management. My aim has always been to manage feed so that the end result is the addition of organic matter to the soil.
Whenever I drive around the district, one of the observations I make is the evenness of grazing over a paddock. The picture below shows a fairly typical paddock in the area on a property that farms cattle. The patchy nature of the pasture growth indicates an uneven spread of fertility throughout the area primarily due to manure. There are other influencing factors such as grass type, soil moisture and soil type etc, but in the case below it was predominantly a ryegrass paddock.
For those of you that collect cow manure for our vegi patches, you will appreciate what a simple task it is to collect manure - especially if you have hay rings!! If you consider that a 400 – 450 Kg beef cow can produce about 10 tonnes of wet, raw manure a year, this equates to a lot of nutrients put on the ground in a relatively small area. This weight of manure (once again it is difficult to be precise here because of feed inputs quality and digestibility etc) may mean that your cow could produce 50-130 kg nitrogen, 15-30 kg phosphorus and 40-65 kg potassium per year (1). In this situation, as the “fertiliser” is “clumped” together, it causes the pasture closest to the manure to thrive. Coupled with the fact that many animals reject areas of a paddock, which have been contaminated by manure in order to minimise their parasite burdens, the grass now becomes tall and rank making it even less palatable. The “normal” areas are then well grazed and often over-grazed, depending on their management. If over-grazed, the areas around the contaminated pasture may eventually cause the ground to become bare. This can increase the risk of land degradation and promote weeds. Another negative concerning clumps of manure left in paddocks is that it also increases the risk of nutrients and pathogens in manure entering and polluting watercourses due to runoff. There are ways of preventing this uneven distribution of fertility, biological and mechanical, but I see this as one of the potential benefits of farming deer – an even distribution of fertility, as their faeces are smaller and more scattered.
Unfortunately, the last of the dairy farmers in our area sold out about 10 years ago. These blokes were always my first port of call when wanting to learn how to grow grass. Then along came government-assisted programs like “BeefCheque” to help farmers understand pastures. In order to graze ryegrass efficiently, it is important to understand the relationship needed between light, number of leaves, temperature and nitrogen. Rather than going into that here, I would recommend that those who are interested read the article by Danny Donaghy and Bill Fulkerson – see Reference #3.
Tim Hansen’s pastures are a little more diverse than mine. I was glad to see that he basically has quite similar pasture management techniques to me. His pasture management is based on the concept of cell grazing. This concept is similar to Allan Savory’s “herd effect” (4). Savory believes that, historically, grazing systems have been sustainable because large herds would graze small areas quite briefly and simultaneously stir the ground up and tread in organic matter. They may then not return for a long period – in some cases over a year. Stirring the ground up for a brief period (possibly only hours) is critical as it improves water penetration, soil respiration and new plant germination and establishment. Great idea - but difficult on small acres. Cell grazing is the next best thing.
Unless you have a heap of disposable income, as Tim suggests, improving pasture and environs is a long-term project. In my situation, some of my paddocks are where I want them, but I would need another lifetime to complete my aims. I have shown in the pictures below two of my paddocks. Both of these paddocks have been cell grazed for about 25 years, each one being about two hectares. The top picture shows pasture which is predominantly ryegrass and the bottom one is probably 30% clover 70% ryegrass. The picture that shows the recovering pasture had about 120 hinds in it for 4 days.
The purpose of this discussion is to point out one of the many benefits of farming deer. When they are cell grazed, they tend not to selectively graze and, like sheep, have the ability to graze close to the ground. This is critical if you want to establish ryegrass. Finally, in the picture below – which farm has cattle? Golly, there’s another benefit – deer eat blackberries. When will it stop!!!
1. Department of Agriculture and Food. Note 509. Manure Management on Small Properties. February 2012
2. Washington State University Extension. Clean Water for Washington. Animal Manure Data Sheet.
3. Danny Donaghy and Bill Fulkerson. Principles for developing an effective grazing management system for ryegrass-based pastures
4. Allan Savory. Holistic Management. 1999.
EFFECTS OF EXCHANGE RATES
By Andy Cowan
I made the comment in the last issue of the ADF that “The venison prices according to “stuff.co.nz” are quite encouraging for producers.” This is not far from the truth as prices have been more or less stable for the past few years. However, the statement does not give any idea of what exporters, generally, have to contend with. The following hypothetical may give readers a glimpse into the frustrations, risks and variations in outcomes possible when exporting venison.
We all recognise there are a limited number of abattoirs in Australia willing to slaughter deer. This is true for the domestic market and it is even more restricted when it comes to export markets. The returns for the farmer depend entirely on the profitability of the next link in the chain – what we refer to as the “venison vendor”. There are many costs encountered by both domestic and exporting vendors, which are largely the same. I would expect that boning, storage and packaging costs are similar in both cases. There are significant differences in cost of slaughter for export as compared to domestic animals. Generally, it costs about $20 more per animal to slaughter export stock when compared to a domestic kill. I am sure that this figure will vary but it is what I have experienced.
The following example outlines the dilemma that the exporter faces. Of course, at present, any Australian exporter has similar risks.
From a purely academic point of view I will make the following assumptions about our deer carcass, which is to be exported. The deer slaughtered has a Hot Standard Carcass Weight (HSCW) of 55kg. To make it simple, the slaughter fee could be $55 meaning that it costs $1/kg HSCW to the vendor. I will assume that 70% of the carcass is saleable and is comprised of 15% shoulder (8.25kg); 30% legs (16.5kg); 10% loin (5.5kg); 10% trim (5.5kg) and 5% miscellaneous (2.75kg). This makes a total weight of saleable meat to be 38.50kg. A complicating factor is the myriad of ways of selling the product. This example keeps things fairly simple.
I have generalized and rounded up and down some figures in this example. I received some help from a venison wholesaler in Victoria with regards to pricing. The table below outlines the possible variations in the returns of the exporter. Over the past year, the Euro and A$ have varied between 0.74 and 0.82 – Euros per Australian dollar. For example, the Gross Returns in A$ of the meat sold into Europe equals Yield x European Wholesale Price / Exchange Rate.
From this highly simplified table, we find that the gross return to the vendor, for the meat, varies between $405 and $365 – a variation of 10 to 11 %. There are other costs involved – kill fees (extra for halal), boning, packaging, freezing, storage, local and overseas transport, accommodation, advertising documentation, etc, etc. If all these sundry costs were to amount to $150 per head, that would mean that the net return to the vendor is approximately $255 (ER is 0.74) and about $215 (ER is 0.82). In other words the net return per kg HSCW is between about $4.64 and $3.91/kg. So what is seemingly a small fluctuation in exchange rate can have a profound effect on profitability.
At present, with exchange rates being as high as they are, it makes it very difficult for exporters to remain profitable- depending on what they paid the farmer. Also, and this is a big problem in the Australian industry, there are not too many 55kg. carcasses produced. I am as much in shame as many other farmers - as the last three groups of animals I have sold averaged 41kg, 64kg and 90kg. HCW.