Today was an early one. We started off with an early breakfast at the Boatshed Café and then boarded the bus to go visit the first of several stops on our way to Dunedin; Landcorp Farms. Landcorp Farms is a large cooperate dairy farm with over 120 different farm in New Zealand. The farm we visited today was just outside of Ashburton which is about an hour and a half South of Dunedin. Dairy is one of New Zealand’s largest export and is a vital part of the agriculture industry here. This farm in particular consisted of three different dairy barns that milked a total of 3000 head of cattle a day. It was interesting to learn about how a New Zealand dairy operates and how it differs from the dairy industry in the U.S. New Zealand dairies are seasonal milkers so they do not place cattle in a barn in the winter to continue milking. They also feed vary little supplements and grain and rely mainly on rotational paddock grazing with good quality forages for feed. We spent about an hour and a half at the dairy and left with a basic but solid understanding of how a large New Zealand dairy operates.
Next, we made our way toward Dunedin. However, on the way we stopped briefly at the Moeraki Boulders. The boulders are located in a small area of the beach near the little fishing village of Moeraki. They are essentially giant bowling balls scattered around the beach and can only be seen during the low tide. There are approximately 20 -30 boulders scattered around, they vary in size but most are about twice the size of a beach ball. They are very unique and are a great opportunity for some one of a kind pictures.
After the dairy we traveled about 45 minutes to Geraldine, the home of Deer Genetics New Zealand. Deer farming is an important part of agriculture here and New Zealand is the world’s largest venison exporter. They generally farm the Red Deer species also known as the Red Stag. They are larger than a Whitetail Deer but smaller than an Elk. Deer Genetics NZ has been in business for over 20 years and specializes strictly in antler growth and development. They have about 500 head of deer on the farm and are one of the few companies in the world that can export semen and embryos internationally. While at the farm we were shown antlers both in and out of velvet, as well as their working pens and the area in which they preform artificial insemination and embryo transfers. We were then taken on a hay ride through the farm where we saw paddocks full of deer segregated by age, sex, and antler potential. The highlight of the trip was seeing the five farm sires. One sire was the world record for his age group last year at over 700 inches on the SCI scale. Another stag was the largest White Stag in the world, a different but very similar species. We were also able to pet and feed some tame hinds (females). While on the tour we learned about how they select for and promote large antler genetics as well as part of the industry behind it. Getting to witness some of the largest Red Stags in the world as well as probe the minds of the people who developed them was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.