12 November 1999

Efficiency and a healthy image aims of research

By Robert Davies

RESEARCH at ADAS Rosemaund will help deer farmers produce venison more efficiently and protect the meats healthy image.

The 100-hind herd at the Herefordshire research farm was established in 1988 and it is the only lowland deer research facility in England and Wales.

"The fall in market prices has made it more important than ever to look at all costs and to ensure that venisons low fat image is not tarnished," says researcher Dave Deakin.

"MAFF is funding a three-year research project involving venison because of the potential benefits to the nation of a low fat, low cholesterol, high protein red meat."

Economics dictate that producers needed to market bigger animals to spread costs. But maximising meat production from each animal by slaughtering at heavier weights increases the risk of fat deposition.

Work being carried out at Rosemaund is taking a detailed look at the relationship between liveweight, age of deer and the subcutaneous and intramuscular fat content of their carcasses. Half carcass and joint dissections done at Bristol University will also provide information on lean and bone percentages.

The work involves slaughtering four stags and four hinds on eight different dates. The first were killed at housing on October 20 last year, when hinds weighed 79.9kg liveweight and stags 89.8kg.

The next draw was at turnout on April 6 when all the deer were about 22-months-old. Subsequent draws took place every three weeks.

Data from sequential slaughterings will be used to construct guidelines for production from older and heavier animals while avoiding overfatness.

DEER RESEARCH

&#8226 Efficient venison production.

&#8226 Clover boosts growth rates.

&#8226 Winter feeding research.