Wilkins Farming | | Wilkins Farming Co. News
As one of the largest farming agri-businesses in Southland, our operation spans drystock, dairy and cropping. WFL has invested in land ownership and management of their own properties and leased farms. They are a discerning agri-producer, forming strong partnerships across the supply chain.
New Zealand, Otago, Southland, South Island, Agri-businesses, Wendonside, Dairy, deer, sheep & crop
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WFC Deer News



On the back of 25 years of recorded Red Deer breeding at Wilkins Farming Co, we are proud to introduce you to our summer sales line-up.

It has certainly been an unconventional lead up and even though we are an essential service I am sure you, like us have faced some challenging times both on and off farm thanks to COVID-19 and the 2020 droughts. On this note, we have seen venison hit as hard as any red meat with regards to farm gate pricing due to our reliance on the restaurant trade and access to the valuable Chinese market.

That said, as October arrives it is pleasing to see China stating Red Deer is once again an ‘acceptable meat protein’, albeit they are currently still declining bones which had been a valuable part of the farm gate pricing pre COVID-19. The pandemic has forced venison marketers to re-look at what was being offered, and it is pleasing to hear that the international opportunities are now expanding through both retail and HelloFresh UK, as well as targeted domestic opportunities through My Food Bag (NZ) — all of which are delivering encouraging feedback to date.

Pet food has also come back into the export market recently, as well as more promising news from the European game season, with solid demand reported and current stocks low or sold which is positive compared to the prior holdings that were not moving through. Clearly, we are all looking forward to international COVID-19 conditions continuing to improve, which will see restaurants trading again with consumption and demand following in our other key markets like America and the rest of Europe.

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With a successful selling season behind us, we hope your stags have arrived safely and settled in as expected. We want to thank you all for your support at both of our sales, and acknowledge the effort made to attend given the travel and time involved that takes you out of your business.

As we advance into the new 2020 decade, it’s an appropriate time for us to reflect on our achievements to date and set future aspirations.

As I look back on our stud’s history there are many milestones and achievements that I’m proud to highlight. One of many milestones for us is having fawns born at WFC fully recorded for 25 years! We were tagging our first fawns and matching these up in the Spring of 1995 from hinds purchased that had been recorded for several years earlier.

I also have immense pride when thinking about the vast loyalty and close friendships we have built with our ‘clients’. Ever since selling our first stags via private treaty in 2001, many of our buyers have been with us the whole way through; a true partnership and without this loyalty we would not be able to continue to invest.

We have always been early adopters and embraced technology since the early 2000’s, utilising the high-tech CT scanning at Agresearch working with the fabulous Abacus Bio team, embracing EID for our stud, as well as DEERSelect, DNA testing and ultrasound scanning.

Some other highlights include, participating in the Deer Progeny Testing (DPT) project, running our own field days, hosting next generation events, setting up our own export centre in the UK, and of course the purchase of significant herds including the initial Eastern herd and our Woburn herd from Henrietta the Duchess of Bedford.

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We are pleased to give you an update about our exciting new retained sires, as well as the new genetics we have on offer this summer.

Further, this up and coming stag season sees the second crop of our stags sired by Cardrona, Kennedy and Salzburg which are all Maternal types. These stags all feature strongly, increasing the depth of breeding we offer in our Maternal lines. Their best in class venison genetics, combined with strong velvet genetics ensures high quality, multipurpose breeding hinds and sire stags.

Key highlights since our last update include:
MEAT YIELD In recent seasons we have made impressive progress in our meat yield trait. Our top animals now have an estimated loin weight exceeding 5 kilos and up to 6.56 kgs at the time of scanning. This reflects a 20% gain in recent years, increasing our loin weight in our top line of 200 animals by 0.9 of a kilo in real terms.

ICON (Maternal – Eastern/German) was NO. 1 for EMA (eye muscle area) and tenderness in the Deer Progeny Testing (DPT) taste tests. We are thrilled with his results with respect to our EMA, meat yield and loin size results.

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We appreciate your support at both our North and South Island sales this year. It is a huge team effort to get the stock to sale, and that is reflected in the high standard of the stock we offer.

We had record liveweights especially at our South Island sale, with the Europeans averaging 250 kg and Maternals 225 kg. Our velvet standards are quietly improving, and we achieved a total clearance at both of our sales again this year. We hope the stags you have purchased have arrived safely and do their job well for you.

As mentioned within this newsletter, we are pleased to have achieved what we believe are two breeding milestones in New Zealand this season. The + 22 W12eBV Churchill (pure English) grandson, and a sale day liveweight in a WF144/05 son of 291 kg were outstanding results for the Wilkins stud.

Looking forward, we are excited with the depth we have now reached in our Maternal breeding programme. Our Cardrona over Rock Me’s, and Churchill (top English growth rate sire) over Tui’s (NZ’s top conception date sire -12.1 CDeBV) are awesome combinations for breeding replacement hinds. Recent liveweights have the top stags recording 189 kg at 15 months and 143 kg at 11 months within our next season’s sale crop.

We have also continued a strong focus in breeding for meat yield which has seen very pleasing results on both DEERSelect and on farm
for eye muscle area (EMA). We are breeding from 3 of the top 4 stags on DEERSelect including Icon. Over the last two years we have achieved year on year improvements of approx. 1.5% for loin weight as a percentage of carcass weight. EMA results are up to 44 cm2, and estimated loin weights are above 6 kgs for the first time ever in our stud…

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Exciting news! Our sale dates for the up and coming sale season have just been confirmed.

Please join us in the Hawke’s Bay for our North Island sale on the 14 December 2018, or here in Athol our home farm in Southland on the 18 January 2019.

We have an extensive range of great options for our stag purchasers given our achievements extending various bloodlines and composite breeds. This stag season also sees the first of our stags sired by Cardrona, Mighty Image, Kennedy and Salzburg which are all Maternal type. These stags all feature strongly, increasing the depth of breeding we offer in our Maternal lines. Their best in class venison genetics, combined with strong velvet genetics ensures a high quality, multipurpose breeding hind or sire stag.

To ensure we are constantly developing these animals, we place huge importance on this focus on farm and this is well supported, using EMA scanning, CT scanning, DNA testing, data recording and monitoring.

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With successful sales and unprecedented farm gate trends for venison prices, it is nice to share positive news.

We want to thank you for your support at both our recent North and South Island sales. It is a huge team effort to get all the stock to sale, so to achieve a total clearance at both of our sales was very pleasing, and we believe reflective of the standard of our stock and years of investment. In addition to our sale stock we were also able to fill extra requirements through private treaty sales of Red Deer and F1 Terminal Sires, so thank you once again for your support. We hope the stags you purchased have arrived safely and settled in well. +read more