Business Rural Summer 2021

46 | Leading Wapiti Stud goes for gold Sue Russell D ave Lawrence and Donna Day bought a special piece of Godzone back in 1995, in the form of 35 ha of pristine farm land near Winton, Southland. Together they have developed Tikana Wapiti, one of New Zealand’s leading Wapiti Stud’s breeding Sire Bulls and terminal sires for breeders and com- mercial deer farmers throughout the country. It’s been hard and rewarding work, looking back on the journey and what the couple have achieved; a story both are enormously proud of. Dave, a retired veterinarian, is passionate about the Wapiti breed. His approach to farm manage- ment practices is to put stewardship of the environ- ment and care of the animals at the forefront. “We very much have a holistic approach to farm- ing and feel every aspect of the farm must work in harmony with all its parts. It’s proven to be the right approach as evidenced in the quality of the deer we breed.” He also has an innate understanding of Wapiti, which he describes as majestic stately animals, deserving of the very best of care and respect. The transformation that occurs in the DNA of a bull when it comes into the roar defies description; where once a placid quiet animal stood, for a few weeks, they become full of energy seeking out mates. “It’s vital people understand that deer need to be handled in very special ways and best left alone at mating and when fawns arrive. Since speaking with Dave two years earlier, he described the recent development of an EBV for CARLA, by scientist Jamie Ward of AgResearch, as a ground-breaking new tool in the fight against internal parasites, one of the sectors most voracious natural pests impacting on productivity. CARLA represents an animal’s natural propensity to produce an antibody that helps protect it from internal parasites. Through research Jamie has been able to identify the genetic trait that produces this ability. “The Deer industry is in a peculiar situation. Unlike other livestock industries the so called new chemicals for cattle and sheep aren’t effective on deer. We do have a new deer specific drench, however the impact of it not being used wisely, in other words, used to excess by deer farmers or on classes of deer where it generally shouldn’t be used such as adult deer, will result in deer building up a resistance to the drench,” Dave explains. Now with CARLA, its possible for deer farmers to select stags that carry and pass on a higher defence against internal parasites, something Dave says will have major positive implications across productivity and financial return. CARLA measures an animal’s ability to produce the antibody that restricts gastrointestinal parasites and lungworm larvae from developing once in- gested off the pasture. Now it is possible to pinpoint those deer that produce the antibody earlier and at higher levels. This capability can be passed on through breeding, building up in the deer herd over time an animal less impacted by internal parasites. DEER » Tikana Wapiti In February 2020 before COVID arrived, realising the acute importance of teaching farmers and veterinarians about best practice management for dealing with pasture-borne parasites, the Deer Industry funded a series of Parasite Management workshops throughout the country. “Pasture management is critical because 90% of all parasites are on the pasture not on the animal. If a farmer’s first thought is to go for the drench gun, then it’s like the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.” Tikana Wapiti are placing more emphasis on CARLA eBV’s (estimated breeding values) and the animals they will stand up for sale Dave says will be 40% higher in this eBV than previously sold. “It’s going to take a little bit of time for deer breeders here to focus on it and the animals they are putting on the market but the fact that CARLA can now be objectively measured is a vital first- step.” Findings from research conducted at AgResearch Invermay have proven that progeny of sires carrying high CARLA grow better, in less time and with lower production costs and shed less eggs and larva onto pasture . At their next sale on 17th January buyers will be able to access detailed information across a range of eBV’s, including CARLA, to aid in their buying decisions. “We feel it is important to include CARLA levels, now that the research has proven its value. We want to give buyers as many tools as possible to help inform their buying decisions.” Proud to support Dave and Donna. Buy online... Nepia - NZ Velvet record 26.3kg (top). Tikana Wapiti breed Sire Bulls and terminal sires for breeders and commercial deer farmers throughout the country. Round Balage, Hay, Cultivation and Direct Drilling 027 451 5581 | 141 Winton Lorneville Highway, Winton 0800 621 431 PHONE NOW Imported Feed Blends & Contracts Dairy Meal / Pellets Calf Feeds PKE Blends & Contracts Bulk Molasses Deer Feed Specialists PROUD SUPPLIERS TO TIKANA Y O U R S E E D & F E E D S P E C I A L I S T S