Farmer Focus: Deer farming taking off quicker than expected

We have been in limbo lately as we have been offered opportunities to go into deer a lot more heavily than initially anticipated.

It looks to be a great opportunity, potentially a once-in-a-lifetime thing. But as we all know that with every opportunity there are pros and cons and huge costs.

Equally we don’t want to have any regrets.

Deer conference

At the end of October my mother-in-law and I went to the British Deer Farming and Parks Association conference at Houghton Hall in Norwich.

Pip, my wife, was unable to go as in her spare time she is a hairdresser and she was already booked up to do a wedding that weekend.

See also: Read more from the Livestock Farmer Focus writers

We went to learn more about the industry.

We met a great group of people that were all positive and enthusiastic about the industry’s future and they all seemed more than willing to talk and share their information about their businesses.

It has given us food for thought and great contacts in the industry so now we need to decide whether or not to start deer fencing or continue conventional stock fencing.

Lambing put back

On the sheep front we have put all but 1,000 ewes to the rams.

We have put lambing back over two weeks this year due to a challenging spring with the grass being very slow to come.

We are hoping by putting it back we will have more grass about for the ewes when they start lambing.

So far they have been slower than usual going to the rams.

After talking to friends in New Zealand it looks like some areas have a challenging spring with a high snow fall in some parts and cold wet spring in others. In some cases, they have lost a lot of stock and fences flattened by heavy snowfall.

Sheer luck in Norway  

We are looking forward to seeing our 18-year-old nephew stop in with us after he has been shearing in Norway for the past three months; I’m not sure who had the bigger eye-opening experience, them or him.

It is great to see young guys travelling with shearing and them getting to see different cultures and amazing parts of the world that many of us never will.

Matt and Pip Smith run 1,085 breeding Romneys and Romney-cross Lleyn ewes across 121ha. Matt is also a shearing contractor and train sheep dogs