All posts by administrator

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
Scottish Venison Partnership
t: 0131 445 5570
e: 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

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

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)