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



With spring fast approaching, this season would have to be one of the more positive outlooks, when comparing deer with other types of farming.

From a sector perspective, venison looks stable with a slight increase in farm gate values compared with last season and velvet pricing will hopefully be similar. In addition, opportunities return within the
trophy industry, after a successful completed season returning good sales, so overall our industry is not in a bad spot.

Meanwhile, here at Wilkins Farming Co specifically, on the back of our continued investment we are excited to see how the stock will perform this spring and summer, and we are looking forward to planning our new mating programme which will continue these gains for our stud.

We will be holding our South Island sale as normal on January 12 2024 at 2pm and as with previous years, our North Island clients can purchase via private treaty.

Once again, this selling season will see us focus on the Maternal and European stags. The Maternal draft offers a great mix of our star sires Big Geoff, Rock Me, and Rock Me sons in Körper and Megarock — progeny of these stags will feature strongly…

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As we go to print, cyclone Gabrielle has severely impacted parts of the North Island with the devastation from this unprecedented weather event being widespread, tragic, and leaving us struggling to put into words our immense feelings of both support
and grief for all those who have been affected. Our thoughts are with you all as you approach your road to recovery.

As usual, we hope this newsletter provides you with some evening reading material and updates about our recent on-farm news, as well as the future direction of our stud. We always welcome any feedback regarding this because we want to ensure our direction is in line with your aspirations, so we continue to work with you in the future.

This newsletter once again contains summaries from our summer red stag  sales. We were very happy with both the quality of the animals we offered for sale, and the demand shown for them during this selling season. Thank you again to our new and repeat buyers for supporting us — we hope your new stags have settled in well.

We are also very grateful to the agents, our stud’s deer staff and the wider Wilkins Farming Co team for the huge efforts made to get these animals to sale and for managing our sale day. It’s a big team effort over many months to achieve the results we do.

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Finally, it seems that after a couple of years there is light at the end of the tunnel! There’s no denying the impact of the “C” word and its effects on all industries, especially the deer industry. From trophy stags that were almost valueless overnight, to a downturn in the venison price we have all in some way been impacted. It is however positive to see international travel resuming, and finally some positivity showing in venison pricing and our borders opening for the trophy industry.

We are beyond proud to see the progress made in the performance of our stud’s breeding program and the recent milestones we have achieved. This year we have decided to continue offering our North Island stags by private treaty as we did last

The South Island stags are on track, and we are very happy with the performance of these animals to date.

Once again, this selling season will see our focus on the Maternal and European stags. The depth of breeding, combined with our continued investment and the results coming through are very exciting and offer your herd many valuable traits.

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Welcome to our latest newsletter. As the days get cooler and darker, we hope this provides you some evening reading material as winter approaches. Like us, you will now have your fawns off the hinds, and we hope you have achieved good weaning targets despite the challenges some areas have experienced with difficult weather conditions.

As always, this newsletter contains summaries from our summer Red Stag sales. Thank you again to our new and repeat buyers for supporting us – we hope your new stags have settled in and done a good job over the rut. Thank you too, to the agents, key deer staff within our stud and wider Wilkins Farming Co team for the huge efforts made to get these animals to sale. It’s a big team effort over many months to achieve the results we do.

We were very happy with the performance of the animals we offered for sale. These animals had outstanding venison measures and across the board we were impressed with the depth of the stags.

There were several standouts for us, including two that featured 350 Red our matriarch hind, Lot 15 and 104, reiterating her status within our herd. Both stags are awesome breeding investments for their new owners. Also of note is Jameson the 1st Red spiker that we are aware of to achieve a 200 kg live weight and an impressive 48 cm EMA scan (at 11 months). You can learn more about these stags in the features throughout this newsletter.

Looking ahead to our future sale stags, we are preparing a great selection of animals to offer, and we look forward to providing you with further details in due course.

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As an industry we continue to travel these uncharted times but we know like any challenge this time will ultimately help build resilience and diversity for future strength. We also need to continue to do this within our herds.

We are beyond proud to see the progress made in the performance of our deer breeding program. Once again we will be selling at both our North and South Island locations. Our stags have settled in well at George and Laura’s in Tikokino, and the South Island stags are on track here at home.

In regards to our Pure Easterns and Woburns, we have decided to carry these to 3 years old and sell them at this age. The latter will be our first Woburns offered and the first we market on our own account since the purchase of the Woodtown hind herd from the Duchess of Bedford.

This season will see us concentrate on the Maternal and European stags which we are really excited about. The depth of breeding, combined with our continued investment and the results coming through (that we eluded to in our Autumn newsletter) are somewhat exciting and offer your herd many valuable traits.

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Thank you for the support shown for both our annual sale events, — we hope your stags have arrived safely and have settled in as expected. As always please never hesitate to get in touch should you have anything you wish to follow up with us. Our entire team appreciates the effort involved when you take time out of your business to visit our events, we hope you enjoy the day as much as we do?

It was a unique and special experience to share the food prepared by Graham Brown with all the North Island sale attendees as part of our stud’s ten year anniversary celebrations – thank you again for your support.

We were very happy with the presentation of our sale stags. At our South Island sale we presented one of our European stags with a sale day weight of 292 kg! — a new record for our stud and potentially the heaviest 2 year old sale day weight ever recorded! We also sold a top 2 year old maternal sire registering at 247 kg LWT, with 5 kg of tidy velvet which is a very impressive combination of velvet and liveweight for age. You can see more about these exceptional animals on page 4.

As we travel through these uncharted times, we remain firm in our view that investing in high quality, performance enhancing genetics will ensure that our business and the wider cervine sector exits this challenging global pandemic in a sustainable and secure position. Breeding quality only happens as the result of investment, a strategic view and well executed planning that takes time. Short term, cheap fixes will never deliver the live weights, conception gains and velvet growth scores that ultimately deliver high value, so those studs who continue to invest and breed strategically will ultimately gain the most when the international economy rights itself.

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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