What we can learn from deer farm­ers

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Cuddly, Delightful & Delicious - Honey soy mar­i­nated al­paca steak. Roast al­paca.

Al­paca farm­ers would need to work to­gether on a trial - or per­haps a num­ber of tri­als - in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try. We would need to ne­go­ti­ate a deal with an abat­toir and sup­port them through the reg­is­tra­tion process. We would then need to keep them supplied with a through­put of stock on a reg­u­lar ba­sis to make it vi­able for them. Fi­nally, we would need to de­velop mar­kets for al­paca meat and hides. Those of us who have been in­volved in work­ing to­gether with other al­paca farm­ers to mar­ket our prod­ucts are find­ing that united we stand, di­vided we fall.

For in­spi­ra­tion, we need look no fur­ther than NZ’S do­mes­tic deer in­dus­try. In 1969, the first li­cence was granted to es­tab­lish a deer farm in New Zealand. By 1989, New Zealand had half the world’s pop­u­la­tion of farmed deer at 1.6 mil­lion an­i­mals. The pioneers of the deer in­dus­try suc­ceeded be­cause they be­lieved in their prod­uct, were in­no­va­tive, and were de­ter­mined to work to­gether to achieve a world-beat­ing re­sult.

Since then, to­tal deer num­bers have re­duced to about 1.1 mil­lion an­i­mals, but it’s still vi­able. In 2014, the New Zealand deer in­dus­try ex­ported over 16 mil­lion tonnes of veni­son with a value close to $180 mil­lion, but add on vel­vet, hides/leather and other prod­ucts and the to­tal ex­port value of the deer in­dus­try was $241 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries, the first al­pacas were im­ported into New Zealand for farm­ing in 1986. Al­paca farm­ers are in a very young in­dus­try, but one with enor­mous prom­ise.

I be­lieve the big­gest im­ped­i­ment to the de­vel­op­ment of a prof­itable al­paca farm in­dus­try in New Zealand will not be bu­reau­cracy and red tape but a lack of belief in - and fail­ure to work to­gether to de­velop the place of - al­pacas as a cred­i­ble and prof­itable farm an­i­mal.

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