Stags sell, but hinds linger

By Lynda Gray

In Business3 Minutes

A game of two halves best describes this year’s Taihape/Ruapehu weaner deer sale. On the first day of the April sale there was a total clearance of the 1100 stags at a price average of $5.64/kg liveweight but on the second day only 192 of the 700 hinds sold. It was the heavier ones that went, and the prices paid were in the $4-$4.70/kg LW range.

Deer farmer and sale coordinator Andrew Peters said what stood out was that there were fewer buyers, and they were picky about what they bought.

Peters said if breeders were having to hold on to their weaners it meant they would have to cut back their breeding hind numbers. It was not ideal given the genetics and the time and money it had taken to build their herds.

Peters has been organising the sale for almost 20 years and says it was good to see a marked improvement in prices from last year. The 2021 price average of $3.24kg LW was the lowest in the history of the sale run by the Taihape/Ruapehu Deer Farmers Association branch since 1988.

He said for weaner breeding to remain viable, farmers need to be getting at least $4-$5/kg LW.

“That’s what it takes to cover farm running costs and my concern is that a lot of meat companies don’t understand that.”

At the sale there were four vendors, the number has been declining from about 10 in 2020.

Peters said farmers had moved out of deer for a number of reasons leaving the hardcore supporters. They have increased their herds, but that might change if the weaners they bred were not selling.

He said weaner finishers want to hear the right price signals. It was good to see an increasing schedule to $8.05kg in the lead up to the sale which was in line with the five-year autumn average.

There was talk of a $9/kg spring schedule price, but Peters said that peak season price needed to be $10/kg.

“It has to be there to keep venison competitive with the lamb schedule. It’s a big problem because a lot of weaner finishers are swapping out deer for lamb.”

Meanwhile in the South Island at the country’s largest onfarm weaner sale at High Peak Station in Canterbury weaner hinds fetched $2.52-$3.87kg LW; English-cross stags with velvet genetics up to $5.88kg LW; European-cross stags $4.25-$5.30kg LW, and heavier hybrids $5.30-$5.60kg LW.