Southland elk farmer Tom May is no stranger to producing top quality velvet and believes that his Mayfield Elk Farm, just south of Winton, may have just set a world record.
Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) chair and Mid Canterbury farm advisor Andy Macfarlane is urging deer farmers to remain proactive in managing both the feed situation and their budgets.
"I've been revising a number of feed budgets over the last couple of weeks, and many deer farmers will be doing the same," he says.
While high velvet prices have velvet producers smiling, the venison schedules are not so positive, with prices within the $6.20 – $6.45/kg range once again.
"Our take on the market is that there are no major supply or demand issues – indeed it is fundamentally more sound than it was a year ago, when a supply backlog had to be cleared," says Macfarlane.
"About 70% of New Zealand venison is sold in Euros so the latest unforeseen round of European economic jitters and associated currency weakness has flowed through into venison schedules."
The NZ dollar is buying around 67 Euro cents, up from about 60 cents this time last year. The impact of this on the schedule over the past year is about 55 cents per kilo, but this will vary depending each company's European market exposure.
"The exchange rate movement over December also accounts for the difference between the current schedule and what several exporters had predicted in November last year."
Macfarlane notes that while underlying demand in Europe was firm, with a satisfactory chilled sales season just completed, the impact of the Euro weakness demonstrated the industry's urgent need to diversify markets.
"While we have good and loyal customers in Europe, it is critical for the industry to diversify its market risk."
Macfarlane notes however, that the deer industry is looking beyond the European market and DINZ are supporting that diversification through their Passion2Profit strategy.
DINZ hope this work will begin to bear fruit over the year ahead and, together with some hoped-for relief from both rain and currency, will mean a happier 2015 for deer farmers.