Farmer Focus: Best to ask around before starting deer farming

We are pleased to say our second son George has arrived safe and well whilst in the car on the way to Exeter hospital at traffic lights.

I was still driving in the bid to make it to the hospital and Pip did amazingly well. I can now add rally driver and midwife to my CV. Dusty loves him to bits and is a very proud big brother.

We finally had some rain, which has made a bit of a difference to the colour of the grass. Over in Australia they are having to destroy animals in some areas, so it puts it into perspective – plus, it’s Britain so we know it’s going to rain at some point 

We started feeding ewes silage in one paddock to stop overgrazing and avoid any inhibiting of regrowth because it takes a long time to bounce back if you graze too hard. We also put a little bit of extra nitrogen on a couple of fields that we hope to get another cut of silage off.

See also: What does it cost to set up a deer enterprise?

I recently went on a ‘Safe and effective use of medicine‘’ course at the vets to comply with new Red Tractor Guidelines. It’s alarming the rate of resistance to the drugs we are currently able to use, and a gentle reminder that trying to breed more resistant animals has a brighter future than relying on drugs.

I helped with Alan Derryman’s charity shear at Home Farm near Sidbury, which was a great success. He has always wanted to shear 400 ewes, and reached 413 – a great number for any man, let alone someone who is 60. He managed to raise over £7,500 for a charity close to his heart – Exeter Leukaemia Fund.

The deer are doing well in the dry; we started to give most of the hinds a bit of concentrate just to keep them milking well while the calves are still feeding. The stags have mostly rubbed their antlers too hard after being in velvet since February, which is a really great sight.

I see a lot of hype about getting into deer and making your millions. If you are thinking about it, get real advice. If you don’t do your homework and talk to people already doing it, you can come unstuck if you’re not careful. 

There are some really good people you can talk to, but there are also a lot that have the sight of a bat for building the future of the deer industry.

Matt and Pip Smith are Farmer Focus writers from Cornwall. Read their biography.