Hunter forges career breeding trophy stags

Hunter forges career breeding trophy stags
PHOTOS: Sire P520 at eight years of age (top left); A three-year-old ,179 will be put up at the upcoming sale in January (top right)

A keen hunter, Donald Greig knows a good animal when he sees one. It’s that expertise that has seen Rothesay Deer become known as one of New Zealand’s leading trophy breeders.
Donald’s enthusiasm for hunting in his youth progressed into helicopter wild deer culling and live captures, thus forging his own deer farming career and playing a vital role in the pioneering days of New Zealand’s deer industry.
“I virtually only started with a few acre block and a handful of deer,” he says. The few acres he had was from his family farm that was split between him and his brother.
“My brother took over the biggest part of the farm. It was back in the Roger Douglas days, he went out of farming because it just got too dear. It was really tough going.”
His father wasn’t at all keen on deer but Donald continued to expand, focusing on meat and velvet and taking advantage of live values that were at an all-time high. He eventually took over what was left of the family farm, totalling around 60ha.
“We’ve certainly had our ups and downs over the years,” he says, referring to the turbulent markets. “It’s only been in the last three years that things have started settling down.”
Though his days of live captures have substantially quietened down, Donald is still an avid hunter and involves himself as a hunting guide and when necessary, will still do the odd live capture. “No-where near to the extent that I used to,” he says.
His farming operation today has more than doubled, farming around 1500 deer.It’s a reasonably intensive farm, consisting of mainly Red Deer with a scattering of Fallow and Elk. “I mainly farm stags on the home block and I’ve got a breeding block in Mt Somers where most of my breeding hinds are.”
Breeding trophy animals has always been where his interest lies and is the main focus, “but I don’t compromise,” he says. “We still have meat, velvet and live sales.”

Hunter forges career breeding trophy stags
Trophy stags sorting out who is boss.

He says they’ve found that the composite mix of English and Eastern have produced the best results for them.“Our Eastern composites also make excellent commercial or terminal sires.”
Between 80-100 six-year-old stags, including Fallow and Elk, are supplied every year as trophies to the game industry and an on-farm live auction is hosted annually in January.
Next years’ sale kicks off on January 13 at 5:30pm. Donald says he will still have up to 30 stags on offer – a mix of sires and velvet stags and 10 yearling hinds will be put up as well.
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