New stud the cherry on the cake

New stud the cherry on the cake
Tom and Samantha Macfarlane with son Jack

Major development and expansion to The Kowhais on the south bank of the Opuha river, just outside of Fairlie, South Canter-bury, has led to the purchase of a venison genetics business in Southland and a fitting rebrand to boot.
The Kowhais, now known as Melior Venison (pronounced Mee- Lee – or) combined with Melior Genetics, formerly Deer Improvement Limited, in 2017. A natural progression for the Macfarlane family who runs the operation and have been passionate about producing fast growing, commercially efficient animals since purchasing the Fairlie property in 2013.
“A lot of our breeding goals aligned with those of Deer Improvement,” says Tom Macfarlane who oversees both properties with his wife Samantha, “prior to purchasing the stud we had been using their genetics.”
“Melior – which is latin for ‘improvement’ or ‘betterment’ fits perfectly with our business and sums us up well; we are always striving to better ourselves and our operation so we can deliver the best value to our clients.”
Located in Balfour, Southland, Melior Genetics encompases 490ha of rolling hill country and carries 1300 stud hinds, 500 stags and 1200 yearling progeny.
Managed by Matt and Danielle Clearwater, the stud runs two breeding programmes; a High Growth Rate programme and the 50% English programme.The High Growth Rate programme focuses on fast growth rate Red Deer genetics without compromising on productivity, constitution and temperament.
“These animals tend to be bigger framed and can be used as terminal or maternal sires.” The 50% English programme suits Melior’s clients who are seeking a productive animal for a tougher environment or a dual purpose animal with more pressure placed on maternal traits as well as velvet weight and style.
“While not having as fast growth rates, these animals have a more moderate mature size and bring some benefits of the English hardiness and conformation.”
And it all boils down to driving genetic gain for venison producers to increase their profitability. Tom says with a background in commercial venison production he looks at the stud through “commercial glasses”.
“We like to put pressure on the animals at specific times to see which ones can and can’t handle it. This adds another element to the selection criteria to ensure we are selling a robust as well as productive animal.”
Clients’ feedback is valued and taken into consideration with each decision made. He is active in keeping in touch and visiting clients despite their far reach from Bluff to Northland and enjoys seeing his animals striving in each environment.
The animals at Melior Genetics are sold through private treaty and demand is incredibly high. Through the intensive use of embryo transfer Tom says they can produce a large number of high-quality stags and breeding females and they do “a mountain of recording,” he explains.
Regular weight recording, condition scoring, DNA testing for genomic data and parentage, ultrasound eye muscle scanning, Carla testing and Johnes testing is all undertaken and the herd is equipped with Tru-test equipment for capturing information stored against the electronic tags which makes all the information readily available.

New stud the cherry on the cake
Curious hinds with their fawns.

It’s been a rapid journey for Macfarlanes over the past six years, and this latest purchase and rebrand is another feather in their cap and nod towards their dedication and hardwork.
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