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Dates and locations announced for Deer Farm and Park Demonstration Project 2015

The Deer Farm and Park Demonstration Project in 2015 will be based at a number of different locations rather than just one. Venues will be Clathic, Crieff, Perthshire, and Gledpark, Borgue, Dumfries & Galloway. There will be two days held at each location and a final day at a third location yet to be decided.

Dates for the 2015 demonstration days as follows:

  • Tuesday 12 May — Clathic, by Crieff, Perthshire PH7 4JY
  • Tuesday 16 June — Gledpark, Borgue, Dumfries & Galloway DG6 4SS
  • Tuesday 28 July — Clathic
  • Tuesday 15 September — Gledpark
  • Friday 20 November —Upper Largo, Wester Balcormo and Downfield, Fife

Dick Playfair, Secretary, The Scottish Venison Partnership, one of the project partners, says:

“We have selected more than one location this year as one of the objectives of this exercise is to reach as many potential businesses and individuals as possible interested in diversifying into farm or park venison production. Splitting the project across three locations will help to achieve that. Also, both Jamie Landale at Clathic and Rupert Shaw at Gledpark have excellent stories to tell, and their achievements I think will impress those interested in diversifying into deer and show some different approaches to getting started with deer.”

In 2014 the project was based entirely at Culquoich, Strathdon allowing the deer farming year to be followed at the one deer enterprise. Dick Playfair says:

“Last year the demonstration day programme was successful and very well attended and we hope to emulate that this year by using a number of locations. In addition Scotland now has a dedicated abattoir for deer, operating in Fife, and new, valuable research in the recently-published study by the University of Aberdeen, the James Hutton Institute, and the Scottish Venison Partnership (funded by Interface Food and Drink) identifying barriers for entry into deer farming in Scotland.”

Read the full report (.PDF, 2.2 MB).

The Deer Farm and Park Demonstration Project is a partnership initiative between Scotland Food and Drink, NFU Scotland, SFQC Ltd, and the Scottish Venison Partnership. A significant proportion of funding for the two year project has been made available through the SRDP Skills Development Scheme which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union.

The project is being delivered by its partners and the Venison Advisory Service Ltd.

Deer Farm Demonstration Project opening day oversubscribed

Deer Farm Demonstration Project opening day over subscribed – an extremely encouraging sign for the sector.

The first day of the Deer Farm Demonstration Project will be held on Tuesday 15 April at Culquoich, Glenkindie, Strathdon courtesy of Ali Loder.

The opening day, which is the first of five days spread across the year offering an insight into deer farming for those who might wish to diversify into deer either for venison production or breeding stock, has around 60 farmers, land managers and landowners registered,  in addition to a number of specialists from the sector (and a waiting list to attend).

The opening day provides a background to deer farming in general and includes an introductory walk and talk tour of Culquoich looking at certain areas in more detail such as farm layout, fencing and moving the deer; winter feeding; turning out in-wintered yearlings; an introduction to pasture management for deer; and an overview of the indoor handling system.

As the project progresses its content will become more topic focused. The second day on 10 June has funding, finance and deer health scheduled as well as a number of seasonal on-farm topics.

The Deer Farm and Park Demonstration Project is a two-year initiative built around a total of 10 demonstration days to encourage farmers, land managers and land owners to look at the opportunities of farmed and park deer. The UK retail market for venison is quoted as growing at between 10 and 25 per cent per annum but, even with ambitious plans to expand deer farming in Scotland and to increase output by an additional 1200 tonnes per annum by 2020, if the market continues to develop then the UK is still likely to become a net importer of venison by this time.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead said:

“Scotland’s venison sector has yet to realise its full potential and the Scottish Government is committed to developing that promise and securing a sustainable future for the industry.

“We have provided funding for the establishment of this demonstration project – the first of its kind in Scotland and the UK – which will be a crucial resource for those looking to get into the sector. It means they can gain a greater understanding and knowledge of the work needed to be a success in the sector, and Culquoich will provide an insight which can only benefit those with aspirations to grow Scotland’s venison production.”

Lisa Roberts, Regional Co-ordination Manager, NFU Scotland, said:

“NFU Scotland is delighted to support this project, which aims to give participants the knowledge and confidence to explore potential diversifications into deer farming. The venison sector has huge untapped potential, and with a backdrop of a reduced CAP budget, it’s critical farmers and land managers have access to projects such as this to recognise and seize the emerging opportunities that exist across all sectors.”

The Deer Farm and Park Demonstration Project is a partnership initiative between Scotland Food and Drink, NFU Scotland, SFQC Ltd, the Scottish Venison Partnership and Culquoich Estate.  A significant proportion of funding for the project has been made available through the SRDP Skills Development Scheme which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union.

The project is being delivered by its partners and the Venison Advisory Service Ltd.

Culquoich Farm, Aberdeenshire selected as base for Deer Farm Demonstration Project

Following a rigorous selection process, Culquoich Farm, Glenkindie, Aberdeenshire (Ali Loder) has been selected as the base for this year’s Deer Farm Demonstration Project, the opening day of which will be Tuesday 15 April 2014 from 10:00am.

The demonstration project is a headline aspect of the strategy to stimulate increased Scottish venison production from deer farms and deer parks. With the cull of Scotland’s wild red deer — the main source of venison produced in the UK — currently static and forecast to decline, increasing the number of deer farms in Scotland provides a logical alternative to take advantage of a UK venison market that has been quoted as currently growing at more than 20 per cent per annum. The Deer Farm Demonstration Project is thought to be the first initiative of this type in the UK.

The project will consist of 5 day-long visits spread across the deer farming year to serve as an introduction to deer farming for those interested in diversifying into the sector. The programme will consist of presentations on all aspects of deer farming in Scotland, with practical demonstrations, training and information exchange. Those considering entering deer farming will be able to hear from those who have already taken that step and other industry experts – the risks, challenges, funding and finance, routes to market etc.

Deer have been actively farmed at Culquoich since 2004 with approx 190 acres fenced for deer. The Culquoich deer herd currently numbers around 280 animals. The rationale of the business is to produce deer of the highest quality both for venison production and breeding stock for sale to other farms.

James Withers, Chief Executive, Scotland Food and Drink, who is leading the project, says:

“Scotland has tremendous opportunity to increase its on-farm venison production, with an extremely buoyant and expanding UK market. Ali Loder’s enterprise at Culquoich provides the perfect insight into how such a unit can be developed over a 10 year period to be a significant player producing a quality product in terms of both venison and stock, and an exceptional example for those who wish to enter this sector. First to admit it is not without its challenges, Ali’s experiences are crucial to both telling the story and selling the concept so that we can get closer to our target of 1000 tonnes of venison produced on-farm in Scotland by 2020.”

The opening day, which will take place on farm and at the Towie Hall, Glenkindie, will run through until 16:30 with presentations in the morning and on-farm demonstrations in the afternoon. The programme* for the first demonstration day is likely to include:

  • Background to the project.
  • An overview of deer farming in Scotland and current opportunities.
  • The demonstration farm — the Culquoich story.
  • The venison market and future predictions.

The afternoon will include a farm tour / ‘walk and talk’ and demonstrations, which are likely to include:

  • Turning out in-wintered calves.
  • Deer handling/weighing.
  • Assessing body condition of hinds.
  • winter feeding and an introduction to pasture management for deer farming.

There will be ample opportunity for questions and discussion.

The project is a joint initiative between Scotland Food and Drink, the Scottish Venison Partnership, SFQC Ltd, NFU Scotland and Culquoich Farm.

Funding for the project has been made available through the SRDP Skills Development Scheme which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union. The programme is being facilitated by the Venison Advisory Service Ltd.

See http://deerfarmdemoproject.scottish-venison.info/ for more details about the project.

To register to attend on the day please email mail@scottish-venison.info or call Playfair Walker on 0131 445 5570 by Tuesday 8 April 2014.

* Programme may be subject to change.