New hind block a reason to celebrate for red deer stud

New hind block a reason to celebrate for red deer stud
Young Spikers

June 1st marked a momentous occasion for Rupert Red Deer after it became the proud new owner of Woodbury Downs, a 213ha property in Woodbury, South Canterbury. The 213ha property is in addition to the Rupert family’s existing farms in Peel Forest of approximately 373ha which runs 580 mixed-age hinds, supporting a commercial velveting base of 680 stags.”
Woodbury Downs will act as the new hind block, allowing hind numbers to increase to up to 800, subsequently growing the genetic pool and all going well, resulting in faster genetic advancements.
The business today is a stark comparison to when Rupert Red Deer began in 2001 with only a small hind herd of 100 and a number of velveting stags on 218ha. It’s a proud family business run by Josh Brook and Kiri Rupert who live and work on the farm alongside founders Martin and Rikie Rupert.
It has grown with dedication and unwavering support from those within the deer industry.“It’s a really tight-knit industry,” says Kiri, “really innovative and forward-thinking,” and the family have always felt welcomed.
It took four months to completely convert Woodbury Downs to deer – removing a heap of old man pine (which will be replaced with natives), re-fencing almost the entire farm, adding laneways and a slick new shed. October 17 marked the con-version complete with the Peel Forest fencing crew officially packing up the last of their gear.
The first 330 hinds stepped foot on the property back in mid-July after 10km of deer fencing was complete, introducing the stock to terrain they had never experienced . “These are our first deer in at least 16 generations to set foot on a hill,” explained Josh at the time of their release.
“For all their lives, these hinds have lived down on the fl at, square, Canterbury Plains … we’re hoping the more natural environment will result in improved fitness and better weaning rates, and will also enable us to achieve better feet utilisation back on the flats.”
The deer bred at Rupert Red Deer are all English Red Deer and breeding for velvet producing capabilities has always been the focus, says Kiri.  “You can’t do everything, so we have focused on doing one thing and doing it well.”This focus has lead to a steady progression in velvet weights with some of their sires now reaching more than 10kgs at four years.
“We have always had a focus on conformation but now we are really happy with our weights so going forward our goal is to really extend the lengths of the tops of our velvet and go for that premium grade and maintain the weights so we get benefits from both the weight and the style.”

New hind block a reason to celebrate for red deer stud
PHOTOS: Zappa (from sire Zeus) at four years of age produced 10.4kg of velvet at this year’s cut; It took four months to completely convert Woodbury Downs to deer, re-fencing almost the entire farm, adding laneways and a new shed.

Though they have no plans to chase venison traits, since going public and selling to the wider deer community, they are aware that a lot of their clients do farm venison and to meet those needs Kiri says good record keeping is vital.
“Everything velvet has always been recorded but now we are going to be weighing live weights and taking growth rates. It’s just about providing more information for our clients.”
All of their animals now are DNA recorded making data entry a lot easier and every animal is equipped with an EID allowing weighing to be done automatically through Gallagher.
Kiri says they like to keep in touch with their clients to see how their animals are faring after sales. “Our deer seem to travel really well … none of our deer have gone backwards which is unusual,” she says. Their animals can be found throughout New Zealand with a strong base in the Hawke’s Bay.
Delighted to see their animals doing well outside of their own operation, Kiri admits it’s not some-thing they had ever planned. “We didn’t really set out to be a stud it was just a product of our farming.”
Having that commercial background, Kiri says, sits well with their clients as they can easily relate to them and know what they need. “We are pretty honest and at the end of the day we are just farmers too and that’s what we enjoy.”
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