Upon our return to the farm on 6 February we are straight back into deer work. February is a busy month, bringing fawns into the deer shed for the first time for tagging with EID tags and again 2 weeks later to be weaned from the hinds). Stags are introduced to most of the mobs except those hinds which will be artificially inseminated.
With February only receiving 3.5mm rain for the month its extremely dusty working in the deer yards. Weaner weights are reasonably typical for a dry February although 330 grams/day liveweight gain was still achieved (It has been up to 430 grams/day in wetter Februarys). Mob weaning weights ranged from 55kg to 60 kg.
Unless we make a conscious effort to feed supplement from January on I don’t think we will see much change to this. I think it suits our management to feed more supplement to the fawns after weaning. In any case the hinds are in good order (condition score 3-4) at weaning so should take the stag readily. A notable success for the 2016 fawning is the extremely good survival rate in the first calvers – from an initial 79 first calvers 91% were in calf (72) and we weaned 69 fawns (87% to hinds mated). Most older mobs also returned good fawning percentages in the 90’s although one mob seemed to have had all the dries in it (none of the older hinds were pregnancy scanned) so that pulled the average back.
In February each year we sell surplus 2th ewes to a regular buyer. These are ewes that were mated as hoggets and lambed. We keep half and our regular customer takes the other half. There is friendly rivalry in comparing kill sheet results – he achieves some large drafts at impressive weights however we are getting a higher survival to sale from our flock.
With no moisture in the ground there is very little feed left, most of the “tag” has been grazed off, there is very little Lucerne regrowth and most animals on the farm are now being feed silage daily. Initially its Lucerne silage made in February last year. The stock quickly adjust and look forward eagerly to the arrival of the silage wagon each day.
Lyndon Matthews is the farm manager and one of the directors of Puketira Deer.