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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.

Deer Farm Demonstration Project – selection of demonstration farm underway

The search is underway to select a host farm for the Deer Farm Demonstration (DFD) Project that will start in Spring 2014. The DFD project is part of a two-year initiative to raise the knowledge base across Scotland’s farming sector about the production of venison and breeding stock from deer farms and parks. Year 1 of the project will comprise five demonstration days spread evenly over 12 months with presentations, hands-on workshops and training, and the opportunity for those interested in diversifying into deer farming to meet experts from the sector.

The five demonstration days will cover many aspects of the deer farming year, plus talks from specialists on finance and funding, fencing, deer health, the market, butchery and more.

The project is a joint initiative by Scotland Food & Drink, the Scottish Venison Partnership, NFU Scotland and SFQC Ltd. It is supported by the SRDP Skills Development Scheme which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union. In September 2013 on Scottish Venison Day Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, announced a £95,000 grant towards the project which has a total price tag for delivery over two years of around £130,000.

The move to increase production of farmed and park venison from Scotland comes at a time when the UK market for the meat is steadily growing – some estimates have put growth as high as 25 per cent per annum. However, a Scottish Venison Partnership forecast shows that even if the UK market grows at just 10 per cent per annum for the next 7 years, and production volumes increase by 5 per cent, UK imports of venison from New Zealand, Poland and elsewhere will still double over that period to meet market demand. This is in part due to the fact that Scotland’s wild red deer cull, from which the bulk of our domestically produced venison comes, is static. It is estimated that Scotland currently produces around 3500 tonnes of venison per annum of which just 50 tonnes comes from deer farms. The target is to increase production from deer farms to 1000 tonnes per annum by 2020.

Year 2 of the project in 2015 will move on to deer park production with a similar programme of 5 demonstration days to be held at a deer park which will be selected in due course.

Any operational deer farm interested in applying for consideration as the demonstration unit should contact:

Richard Playfair
Secretary
Scottish Venison Partnership
t: 0131 445 5570
e: mail@scottish-venison.info for more information.

Farmers and other rural businesses interested in early registration to attend the demonstration day programme can do so by making contact (as above) also.

Issued by:
Richard Playfair
Scottish Venison Partnership
0131 445 5570
www.scottish-venison.info

Skills Development Scheme funding a welcome boost for Scottish venison sector says Scottish Venison Partnership

The Scottish Venison Partnership has welcomed Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead’s announcement made on Scottish Venison Day 4 September of a significant funding package to enable two deer demonstration units in Scotland to be set up.

The UK venison market is recording growth of up to 20 per cent per annum plus, although Scottish venison’s share of this is reducing through a static annual wild red deer cull and not having developed new deer farming enterprises on a scale to input significant volumes into this market. Scotland produces in the region of 3500 tonnes of venison per annum of which just 50 tonnes come from farmed deer. New Zealand by contrast produced just under 23,000 tonnes of venison in 2011/12.

The Scottish Government, through the Skills Development Scheme, will be injecting £96,500 over two years into a total £131,000 project, the balance coming from in-kind contributions from the project partners and the Venison Advisory Service.

The bid for funding, led by Scotland Food and Drink, was assembled by a small working group including the Scottish Venison Partnership, NFU Scotland and SFQC.

Stephen Gibbs, Chairman, The Scottish Venison Partnership, said:

“We are extremely grateful to the Scottish Government for enabling this venture which is the first small step in what has been billed as a new dawn for deer farming in Scotland. We believe that there is a tremendous future for Scottish venison and these two demonstration units will be vital in providing a lot more information to those interested in diversifying into deer farms or parks, or indeed starting from scratch.

“The demonstration unit project amalgamates three tested formulae in the rural sector of Monitor Farms, Wild Deer Best Practice Days, and the SL&E demonstration days, and Government funding has been crucial in the delivery of these schemes. We have every intention that this too will be a flagship initiative and a first for the farmed deer sector the UK.”

The demonstration unit project will involve a series of day-long visits to a selected deer farm over a 12 month period to cover all aspects of the deer farming year. These will involve both seminar activity and hands-on practical demonstrations and experience. The programme will be supported by an online manual and run as a sub-domain of the Scottish Venison Website, which also hosts the Deer in Scotland Education Zone for schools developed by SNH.

Year 2 will be based at a different location and focus on deer park production, but with a similar approach. The project target is to reach an audience of 200 prospective new venison producers or breeders/finishers over its two-year period. A selection process to identify the two participating units will run shortly with the programme commencing in early 2014.

Richard Playfair of the Scottish Venison Partnership, and a director of the Venison Advisory Service says:

“We have a sectoral target to increase venison production from Scotland by an additional 1200 tonnes by 2020 and, with a static wild red deer cull, this will have to come from deer behind fences or from substitution of roe for red which requires a number of other complex factors also to be addressed. Even with UK market growth at a modest 10 per cent, we estimate that the UK will still require imported product in increasing quantities to satisfy demand — so this exercise is not about reducing imports at all, but rather making sure that Scotland does not lose its share of this very dynamic, growing market.”

Further information from:

Richard Playfair
Scottish Venison Partnership
t: 0131 445 5570
e: mail@scottish-venison.info
www.scottish-venison.info

Note The Scottish Venison Partnership is the pan-industry producer-led initiative in Scotland covering both public and private sector, and wild and farmed deer, and comprises:

  • Association of Deer Management Groups
  • British Deer Farms & Parks Association
  • Cairngorms National Park Authority
  • Forestry Commission Scotland
  • Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association
  • Scottish Gamekeepers Association
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Scottish Quality Wild Venison (SQWV)
  • The three SQWV assured game dealers – Ardgay Game, Highland Game and Yorkshire Game
  • Jeremy Dixon, Ochil Foods (co-opted member)
  • Richard Barclay, Rannoch Smokery (co-opted member)