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Deer, Elk Farming Popular Down Under
If you're fed up with lousy cattle and hog profits, maybe you ought to look into deer farming. You'll get a lot of encouragement from deer farmers from "down under" who, prompted by low sheep and cattle prices, are "farming" deer and, in a few cases, elk.

In New Zealand, where the first deer farming license was issued 13 years ago, there are now more than 2,000 deer farming operations, with an average of about 110 animals per farm.

Says Arnold Pickmere, Ag Editor of the New Zealand Herald: "Deer farming has become a valuable if still quite minor diversification, for there are still about 300 sheep for every farmed deer in New Zealand. But it is a farming option which is costing the taxpayer nothing in the way of the supplementary minimum prices on which meat and wool farmers have been forced to depend for some time."

In Australia, livestock producers are being advised to seriously consider deer as an alternative enterprise. Says one official: "Deer could be up to five times as profitable as sheep or cattle, based on the present 250 to 300 commercial deer farms in Australia carrying 20,000 to 25,000 deer."

FARM SHOW visited with Robert Oldeman who, in addition to farming 2,000 Red deer, runs 47 elk and is the first in that country to successfully use embryo transplant. He believes the future belongs to elk and plans to expand to a breeding herd of 400 to 500 cows in the next ten years.

"The main reason for putting more emphasis on elk is their ability to produce top line velvet. An elk bull will yield 30 pounds of velvet which, at $60 per pound, is worth $1,800. Deer, on the other hand, only yield eight to ten pounds of velvet. On the meat side, Elk is later maturing than deer. I figure on taking two crops of velvet, then butchering the bulls at 40 months of age when they should dress out at 400 kilos of lean meat."

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #1