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Fodder Beet to finish fawns in Southland

Richard Greer dropped hind numbers to 1300 to accommodate finishing 600 weaner stags for venison. Greer saw his gross margin rise from $355,978 to $530,253 before costs were added.

Sunnyside runs deer, ewes and cattle, while at Happy Valley there are sheep, hoggets and fattening cattle.

The first few years at Sunnyside Greer was running 1500 hinds and selling his fawns as store stock - which are sold to other farmers to finish.

With the encouragement of the advance party, a deer industry initiative to improve deer productivity and profits,  he decided to give finishing his fawns a go.

A mob of 600 stag fawns averaged a growth rate of 121 grams per day on fodder beet, compared with 77 grams per day on chow.

"They got shifted every day, that's to make sure they're getting enough protein off the leaf."

They were also provided with baleage on the side to balance their diet.

The new systems at Sunnyside have Greer joining the chorus of farmers praising the production gains from using fodder beet as a feed source.

The "game changer" crop makes it possible for Greer to have all of his stag fawns sent for processing before Christmas, he says.