Farmer Focus: Growing numbers and progress on deer abattoir

I really must say how nice it is to have a reasonable autumn after the past 12 months being somewhat challenging.

To have this extra dry time and get a few more jobs done is ideal.

Looking back, time has flown and it only seems like yesterday we were getting ready to put the rams out. I do find this one of the more exciting times for us here, as this is such an important part of our business for the future – selecting the right type of animals for our system.

We don’t tend to get too hung up on estimated breeding values – we just look for animals that were ideally born as a twin, reared as a twin, had good weaning weights and show good levels of worm resistance, with good, straight black feet and nose.

See also: Farmer Focus – Hoping to get away with tight forage supplies

We have been fortunate enough to take on a little bit more ground – about 40ha of reasonably good grazing, which is allowing us to go back up to 1,100 ewes going to the ram and increase the hind numbers going to the stag.

As for the rest of our plans, we have had the planning come through for an on-farm slaughterhouse for the deer, so now we are just going through all the paperwork to try to get a small grant to make sure we can afford to do everything properly.

I appreciate many  people think this is a bit extreme, but after a lot of deliberation and expert advice, we feel that – primarily for welfare reasons as well as the massive uncertainty of what lies ahead and after investing huge amounts of money into the deer enterprise – we can’t afford not to move forward on this project.

Also, they must be running out of people to speak at the Oxford Farming Conference, as I have been invited to speak on 3 January 2019. Upon further research on the event, this is a prestigious occasion and a honour to be asked.  

Read more by Matt Smith and see his biography.