Black Forest part of NZ deer story

Black Forest part of NZ deer story
A Black Forest sire stag at the Outram property.

Otago’s Black Forest Park has been part of New Zealand deer story for nearly 40 years when entrepreneurial farmer Trevor Currie established his first deer operation in Outram at the edge of the Taieri Plains in 1980.
Initially the deer were all New Zealand reds sourced from the wild by live capture but by the mid 1980’s there was a move towards breeding from imported deer, mainly from Germany.
In 1990 Trevor added a property in Clinton to the Black Forest Park operation, running both farms together, albeit with an hours drive between the two properties.
Black Forest Park now operates a three-way breeding focus – venison growth rates, velvet production and trophy antler, producing stud sire stags for the industry and replacements for their commercial herd.
From strong German origins and more recently Romanian, Yugoslavian and some English lines, the herd is predominantly European Red and European English cross deer. For growth rates, early calving and size, animals from Eastern European bloodlines are selected.
English and Eastern Cross bloodlines are used in the antler programme, creating heads with heavy traditional style velvet that will grow out to long, wide, high-scoring trophy heads. All deer are fully recorded using DNA parentage analysis with the growth rate herd recorded on DeerSelect.
Black Forest Park is now owned and operated by Trevor’s son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Sarah Currie, who bought the operation in 2016.
After completing a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University, Richard spent several years managing various farms before returning to Black Forest Park in 2013 to manage the stud at Outram before moving on to the Clinton property in 2015, which he continues to manage.
Sarah comes from a fine wool sheep farming background in Central Otago. After attaining a Bachelor of Ag. Science from Lincoln, she worked as an agronomist before joining Richard on the farm.
The Outram property is the home of the Black Forest stud. Located at Woodside, a 10-minute drive from Dunedin airport, the area is becoming increasingly built up with lifestyle blocks.
Comprised of 140 hectares of flat land, the farm is well developed and intensively subdivided into small paddocks for pasture control.
A few years ago, in response to urban sprawl in the area, the Curries made the decision to reduce hind numbers at Outram and carry more young stock there.

Black Forest part of NZ deer story
Black Forest Park stags in antler at Clinton.

“With more population around the Outram farm it was starting to have an impact on the fawning with stock disturbance,” explains Richard.
“We keep all our young stags in Outram until two years of age. We sell some for venison but those that make it as stud animals are sold off that property as sires through an on-farm sale. We bring back around 150 replacement stags to the Clinton property.” Now, all of the stud’s ‘growth rate’ hinds are at Outram, along with all the male progeny from both farms up to two years of age.
“There’s about 270 hinds at Outram, and we carry about 250 R2 stags through the winter and something like 450 weaners.”
An hour away, the 260ha Clinton property is home to all the mixed age velveting mob – usually about 650 stags.
A dual-purpose animal – the stags are bred for their velvet, later becoming Trophy Stags. Most of the velvet and trophy genetic hind base is also kept at Clinton. “Owning Black Forest Park is an exciting challenge that keeps us busy,” says Richard.
“It’s very good timing for us to be taking over the reins of the business. The industry is entering a pretty good space at the moment with good positive signals from the market. Both venison and velvet seem to be in quite good shape.”
Richard says Black Forest Park’s annual on-farm Sire sale at Outram will be held in January 2019.
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