More than 30 years of careful genetic selection is consistently paying off for the Brock family of Merino Downs, near Gore.

Brock Deer farm and stud co-owner Elliot Brock said his father Eddie had spent the past three decades breeding quality stags to a point where they could be considered at the "top end".

"We are always looking for ways to improve and it is not easy to stay on top once we got there."

A stag of theirs was sold for $102,000 during last year's stag sale, which was a national record for an on-farm auction.

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Eliot Brock runs the property with Eddie and mother Bronwyn, who are stepping back to spend more time in Central Otago.

He and partner Anna Hodges have two children, Alex (5) and Mia (9).

They farm a 560ha property, with their main focus stag and velvet production. They run 1800 stags, 800 hinds and 800 weaners as well as 120 beef cattle and also graze hoggets.

Joseph is one of the Brock family's stags and his velvet production is doing well. Photo / Elliot Brock
Joseph is one of the Brock family's stags and his velvet production is doing well. Photo / Elliot Brock

They usually sell about 40 trophy stags annually to companies catering for the overseas tourist market but Covid-19 has stopped that this year so there was "zero demand".

In addition, they run a small flock of Valais Blacknose sheep for his sister Charlotte.

Their annual winter hind sale will be held online on the Bidr website on August 11.

"Buyers don't really need to see hinds and they can buy them out of the book.

"However, our stag sale in January will still be held on farm," Brock said.

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They grow 65ha of fodder beet and feed the stock on it for up to 100 days, depending on requirements.

"We had a good autumn and good early winter season so we had plenty of grass growth and that kept the deer off crops for an extra three weeks.

"However, this has been the worst growing season for fodder beet for years and years, although the good grass growth meant we are no worse off.

Mia Brock (9), of Merino Downs, is ready to help with some of the family's deer. Photo / Eliot Brock
Mia Brock (9), of Merino Downs, is ready to help with some of the family's deer. Photo / Eliot Brock

"The weaner deer are probably the best we have ever had and our R2 hinds have put more weight on in the late autumn so we are pretty happy with them."

Their stags are also in good condition.

"They keep improving and pushing the averages up and it is mainly the genetics doing it."

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They have not needed to buy in new stags for the past couple of years as they have been satisfied with the home-grown genetics.

"The stags coming up this year are better as 2-year-olds then what their mates in the sale were last year."

Alex Brock (5), is also keen to help out. Photo / Eliot Brock
Alex Brock (5), is also keen to help out. Photo / Eliot Brock

The family uses embryo transfers and also supplies semen from their top stags to a laboratory in the North Island to be sexed and then returned.

Their stags will start producing velvet in late August and they will start harvesting at Labour weekend.

"We produce about 11.5 tonnes annually.

"There has been an increased demand for deer velvet in Asia this year because of Covid-19 so, short to medium term, velvet looks quite positive."

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They do not produce commercial quantities of venison.