Chris Petersen, current holder of the deer industry’s coveted Matuschka Award knows a thing or two about deer farming. The former chairman of the Deer Farmers’ Association in Fiordland is the first to admit, however, that he doesn’t always get it right.
Following his move to South Canterbury from Fiordland two years ago one of his first moves was to spread a load of Sulphur Super onto his newly acquired Highden Deer Park, a 126-hectare former cropping farm near Pleasant Point.
“Could have been the levels of Urea, low lime levels or a whole host of things, but we basically had very underperforming paddocks the next spring,” said Chris. Following soil tests a local soil consultant suggested using lime and switching to Viafos V10, a natural guano based phosphate.
The results exceeded his expectations. “I cut 100 tonnes more silage this spring off the same paddocks as last year, about 26 hectares. The silage contractor was pretty impressed as other farms in the area were only cutting half of what they got last year.” Chris also ran his 33 trophy stags and seven sire stags in two of the paddocks.
“The product is easy to use and can be applied even in summer conditions. We also had plenty of clover which was also rare for the area this year as a lot of farmers around me suffered from clover root weevil and I know other farmers using this product are getting similar results with clover.”
But for Chris the end game is about the health and growth of his 800 plus deer. “I am looking more for animal health than having heaps of grass. My deer this winter are in the best condition I’ve had with Red Hinds coming in at up to 150 kilograms and some of my red fawns close to 100 kilograms.”
He attributes his good fortune to the right inputs. “Healthy soil equals healthy animals. And this year with an early winter the farm looked a picture even though I had 100 extra hinds on it.”
Deer, 120 Hectares