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.