Thursday, 01 February 2024 09:55

Deer pioneers out on a high

Written by  Staff Reporters
David and Lynley Stevens have finished up running the well-known Northern Southland Netherdale Red Deer Stud. David and Lynley Stevens have finished up running the well-known Northern Southland Netherdale Red Deer Stud.

David and Lynley Stevens have finished up running the well-known Northern Southland Netherdale Red Deer Stud and have gone out on a high.

A final bid of $100,000 for an award-winning stag was the highlight of the final sale for the velvet deer breeder. At the sale, held earlier this month, a total 24, three-year-old sire stags were sold for an average of $19,000 - including the top price of $100,000.

Closing the stud will allow the couple to get away from the farm when they wanted. In retirement, they will continue to live and farm at Netherdale. Stevens says he will also provide advice to the Hudson family, of South Canterbury who have purchased the stud in 2022, to ensure a "seamless shift" of his deer into their farm operation.

Stevens first went in deer farming back in 1982. In those early years, the herd was culled hard for temperament with strong emphasis placed on velvet production. Deer were imported from the UK and Europe to improve the genetics enhancing existing bloodlines. A Netherdale stag set a record price for the stud when it sold for $135,000 in 2022.

During the 1980s, AI, embryo transfer and embryo splitting were carried out making for very exciting times within the deer industry.

In 1996, a deer complex was built, at which stag sales have been held annually with the 37th and last sale being held in 2024.

Over the years, Netherdale has featured consistently in the NZ National Velvet & Trophy Antler Awards winning the three-year-old class many times. The 2024 sire sale saw an average of velvet weight of 9kg per animal.

Stevens has also dedicated four decades of membership and service with the New Zealand Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA). He was national president from 1999 to 2001 and served as the past-chairman of the NZDFA Selection & Appointment Panel, a member of the NVSB, as well as maintaining an active role in the Southland Committee.

In recognition of his remarkable commitment to deer farming in NZ, Stevens was honoured in 2015 with a NZDFA Life membership and the esteemed Deer Industry Award. He was also given a life membership award in 2006 of the Southland Deef Farmers Branch.

While the Stevens have wound down their stud operation, they remain committed to the deer industry.

They will continue to live at Netherdale and farm a small herd of 100 hinds and a flock of Wiltshire sheep. Their daughter Tania and her husband Alan Clarke will continue to lease part of the property.

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