A special demonstration day aimed at potential deer farmers is to be held in Fife’s Scottish Deer Centre at the start of September.

Entitled  “Scottish Venison Day 2013 – A New Dawn for Deer Farmers”  the major event will also reveal plans for the creation of an on-farm abattoir at nearby Downfield, which is farmed by Bob and Jane Prentice.

Until now the lack of an abattoir facility has been a major drawback in the industry.

The event has been organised by Scottish Land and Estates at a time when there is a buoyant home market for venison, growing official support for deer farming, and clear potential for expansion into the sector.

Participants will be able to learn out about deer farming as a diversification opportunity, find sources of help with information and planning, and examine the benefits as well as some of the obstacles and challenges faced by new entrants.

The afternoon session will  include visits to three very different deer farms – firstly Wester Balcormo, a traditional deer farm with its own herd, then Downfield Farm, the site of the proposed on-farm abattoir, and finally John and Nichola Fletcher’s Reediehill Farm at Auchtermuchty, which has a pedigree breeding herd selling to farmers.

An array of major speakers will include Richard Lochhead MSP is Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment;  Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Scottish Government’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change; James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink, and  Richard Playfair, secretary of the Scottish Venison Partnership.

Also speaking will be Bob Prentice of Downfield Farm; John Fletcher, a vet who established the UK’s first venison farm in 1973 and who now produces quality breeding stock at Auchtermuchty; Vikki Banks, who bought Fletchers of Auchtermuchty in 2012 and is developing her ‘Seriously Good’ brand through direct sales, farmers’ markets, major events and social networking; John Goffin, who is taking over a 1000 acre farm in Midlothian where the intention is to establish a mixed farming programme based around deer and sheep; and Joan Bricall, an FSA lead veterinarian who ensures compliance in slaughterhouses and cutting plants, and takes the lead role in FSA Scotland Operations for wild game.

The day is sponsored by McArthur Cyclone and Tornado Wire, leading suppliers of deer fencing, and is being held in partnership with the Scottish Venison Partnership and the British Deer Farms and Parks Association.

The event, on Wednesday 4 September 2013, is open to everyone and is FREE, with a charge of £14 to cover all catering on the day. Exhibition space is available, with discounts for Scottish Land & Estates members.

Please contact joyce.karch@scottishlandandestates.co.uk or call 0131 653 5400 to register interest.

See full details at http://www.scottishlandandestates.co.uk

The photograph shows one of the stags at Reediehill

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