“With incredible backing by early industry participants, innovation, positivity, and fantastic researchers, Invermay became synonymous with the evolution of the New Zealand deer farming industry and earned an international reputation for its science and research output.”
Ken Drew described the huge challenge that faced he and colleagues in the early days, taking what was a dangerous wild pest and turning it into an animal that could be safely and successfully farmed: “In the early 1970s, deer was a noxious animal, and that’s legally described as an animal that should be exterminated. The concept of farming a noxious animal has obviously got political consequences, as well as biological ones”.
Tony Pearse, who spent 19 years as a researcher at Invermay, recalls travelling overseas often to share New Zealand’s leading expertise in deer farming with the world: “It became an international community of a new industry. It was a real privilege, really exciting”.
Deer Industry New Zealand chief executive Innes Moffat says from the outset, the deer industry did things nobody else did, so it is only natural that new ideas helped develop the budding industry.
“The research at Invermay has always been done with industry collaboration and focused on industry outcomes. As such, the impact of that science has been huge, and it has been key in developing the modern, sophisticated deer farming industry in New Zealand we see today.”
“While the early scientists developed methods for farming deer and progressed our fundamental understanding of them, the ongoing work in the programme is building on this to make us even better at what we do. This ranges from feeding the animals right and having the tools to select the right genetics, to developing new products derived from deer that meet the expectation of our global customers.”
“The scientists have helped us overcome many challenges in the last 50 years. We haven’t run out of challenges and look forward to continuing the collaborations between the passionate farmers in the industry and the equally passionate scientists to support them.”
Key challenges ahead include addressing environmental impacts such as climate change and water quality, which Jamie Ward says will require solutions that are specific to the needs and challenges of the deer industry.
The celebration of the 50 years of deer farming science on Monday 26 September will include an open day at Invermay, including displays and presentations highlighting the science, and a gala dinner to follow.