Peel Forest deer farmer Joshua Brook has won the Rabobank Farm Management Project Award for 2018.

The partner and manager of Rupert Red Deer is a graduate of last year's Rabobank farm managers' programme, which develops business management skills in young farmers from New Zealand and Australia.

He received the award and the $2000 management prize at a dinner in Adelaide in late June in front of this year's graduates, industry leaders, and senior Rabobank staff.

Mr Brook had presented the management project he completed in the year after the programme, highlighting the changes he had made to his business.


Rabobank chief executive Todd Charteris said Mr Brook had applied the programme's lessons and was seeing tangible results.

Mr Brook and his wife, Kiri, run Rupert Red Deer on two Peel Forest properties totalling 324ha, producing stud stock and velvet. After he returned from the programme last year, they formulated a business plan with both short- and long-term goals in a range of areas.

''One of the outcomes of developing the business plan was to start our own stud brand, Rupert Red Deer, selling our top genetics as sire animals and selling our surplus young stock,'' Mr Brook said.

''Having our first sale did two things - it increased our profit on-selling our surplus stock and opened our eyes to what our stock were potentially worth.''

The sale, in addition to a programme presentation by Tasmania's Ashgrove Cheese director Paul Bennett, were the catalyst for a thorough look at the farm's production.

''One of the key points [Mr Bennett] made was that it was essential to understand the numbers within your business. I came away from his presentation thinking we needed to place a much greater emphasis on this within our own business.

''Through the use of computer-based technology we were able to strip out the data in our business and analyse our production dollar-by-dollar, cent-by-cent and kilo-by-kilo.''

He could then dissect the main profit drivers and uncover new growth opportunities.


''One thing we discovered by doing this analysis was the land we were using for our first fawning hinds was holding us back in producing our best genetics, due to the fact hinds tend to get too fat on the highly productive paddocks we were using.

''Looking around and talking to other deer farmers, we found other farmers were getting better results when hinds were on lesser country and we came to the realisation that we needed different land to improve results.

''We've recently taken our numbers and financial budgets to the bank and have successfully obtained the money we need to purchase a property with the right land class and contour.''

Mr Brook said while a profit was a significant component of his management project, the new business plan also had targets for health and safety, environmental sustainability and personal wellbeing.

''We've now made good progress on many of the short-term goals we initially set ourselves and are now putting together new goals for the next 12 months.''

Central Rural Life