Monday, September 17, 2012

"Hi Tech Route To Perfect Venison (Deer flesh) Cuts"

The Southland Times "Hi Tech Route To Perfect Venison (Deer flesh) Cuts"

""Just say we're large scale, intense farmers."

The Wilkins family run one of the largest agri-businesses in Southland, with a deer, sheep and crop farm in Wendonside, a deer and crop farm in Athol, and a dairy farm at Five Rivers.

The large fire engine sitting in the tractor shed is an indicator of the scale of the operation.

Of the deer on his farms about 10 per cent are bred for velvet and trophy, the rest for meat, he said.

And for the past decade, Mr Wilkins has sent in 100 deer for slaughter at Makarewa venison plant, near Invercargill, two or three times a year.

Usually the whole carcass gets weighed once but Mr Wilkins gets each muscle group individually measured, like the depth and width of the loin, he said.

When the euro was stronger, Europeans paid $54 per kilogram for loin and the difference between a good and a bad loin could be 1.1kg, he said.

"If an animal is yielding $50 more for a cut, then you want more of that one . . . you have to find out what they are buying most of and produce it."

The individual cuts could be traced back to the hind and sires so he can identify the genetics to breed high value animals.

The 100 deer come from about 10 different sires so the detailed yield information would mean genetic gains could be made quicker, he said."

"The daily kill at the venison plant is 185 because that has the chillers at capacity.

Meatworkers at Makarewa are paid to work from 6am to 2pm, but when they've filled the chillers they can knock off early.

But now a new piece of technology called VIAscan installed at the end of the slaughterboard in February means Mr Wilkins can bypass the bottleshop on the way to Makarewa.

VIAscan shines a beam of light across the carcass and captures its image.

The image is analysed and compared to the shape and colours of carcasses from a large database of results of boning trials to measure the meat, less the fat and bone of three areas - the leg, middle and shoulder."

"The low grass growth during Southland winters made it difficult to keep deer in good condition so farmers sometimes sent them in earlier, or later, than when they were needed for market, he said.

To get more deer, Alliance paid farmers more, but the incentive of an extra $60 to $70 per carcass was not enough to attract enough stock, he said.

Ideally there would be enough deer to warrant starting up the night shift now, but that started in October when more stock was available, he said.

Despite the cold southern conditions about 80 per cent of deer farming in New Zealand took place south of Christchurch and Alliance processed for about 300 farmers in the South Island in their Makarewa and Timaru plants.

Most of the carcasses were red deer, then wapiti/red cross and some wapiti, though the payout for the farmers was the same for each breed, he said.

Alliance Group venison production manager Marty Donnelly said the ideal deer for farmers to focus on genetically was one that grew fast, had about 26 per cent muscle confirmation with a total meat yield of about 70 per cent."

The Southland Times "Hi Tech Route To Perfect Venison (Deer flesh) Cuts"

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