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Thread: velveting deer

  1. #1

    velveting deer

    Just returned from trip to New Zealand.During the trip i got into discussion with a vet who is involved in the deer farming business there. I hadn't realised that apart from raising deer for venison and for bloodlines for improving hunting stock they take velvet from males for sale to the Asian medicine market. I understand that this involves darting the beast and then cutting off the antler above the coronet. By all accounts a messy business but very profitable.He also mentioned that some research is showing that the velvet does have very good healing properties and indue course will probably be used in general medicine.

    Does any one know if this is practiced in the UK and what are peoples thoughts on it from an animal welfare and moral point of view. Personally I imagine the beast would feel some pain post op given that there is alot of tissue ,blood and nerves but I am not a vet so happy to be corrected. Secondly the antlers enable the buck to express his rutting behaviour so again there is a welfare issue

  2. #2
    I'm fairly sure velveting is illegal in this country, but no doubt someone with appropriate knowledge will be along soon to confirm.

    Novice

  3. #3
    I believe it's illegal in the Uk, but used to get a very good price for antler in velvet from stags culled early season

  4. #4
    In the UK, harvesting of velvet antler is prohibited under the welfare of Livestock (Deer) Order 1980 copied and pasted from
    below however its hard to find much information about the current laws on this controversial practice.


    http://wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/S/00M...Antler_Rem.htm


  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by chiron View Post

    Does any one know if this is practiced in the UK and what are peoples thoughts on it from an animal welfare and moral point of view. Personally I imagine the beast would feel some pain post op given that there is alot of tissue ,blood and nerves but I am not a vet so happy to be corrected. Secondly the antlers enable the buck to express his rutting behaviour so again there is a welfare issue
    I think it's not just the UK, when a country joins the EU their velvet industry gets shut down to keep the hand wringers happy. Its good for deer farmers in this part of the world though, as demand appears endless with athletes discovering this & Asia becoming more affluent. A velvet herd will return twice that of a pasture fed cattle herd all things being equal, but the level of stockman ship is higher.

    Most velvet is cut in a "crush" were the animal may be given a tranquilliser, Xylazine is the most common used. Some prefer to use a ring block & inject a local anaesthetic around the pedicle. Darting would be the least common practice I'd think, although a pole syringe in a dark room for stags with a temperament problem is a handy plan B.

    IMO there is zero welfare issues for the stags. Everything is done by accredited people, & everything is done to provide pain & stress relief for the deer during the process. Unlike cattle, these stags are kept for over a decade & good deer folk naturally develop a strong bond & affection for their animals.

    How much time have you spent around deer? Removing the antlers has zero effect on rutting behaviour, if anything it prevents many welfare issues even with the stags left in with hinds, as it prevents the girls who have failed to conceive that year being killed.

    Cheers Sharkey

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by sharkey View Post
    IMO there is zero welfare issues for the stags. Everything is done by accredited people, & everything is done to provide pain & stress relief for the deer during the process. Unlike cattle, these stags are kept for over a decade & good deer folk naturally develop a strong bond & affection for their animals.

    Cheers Sharkey
    There certainly have been welfare issues for velvetted stags in the past, and I dare say that inhumane practices are still carried out in some countries where the price of immobilising drugs are too expensive or even unavailable, and especially where there are ineffective or non-existent animal welfare laws. In the late 80's and early 90's some 'deer farmers' in Russia were regularly removing velvet without any anaesthetic.

    I remember hearing of one case where the Russian mafia machine gunned an entire herd of stags (and the farmer) in the Altai region and sawed the antlers off all the stags in velvet - such was the euphoria surrounding the velvet price at that time!

    Inhumane practices were even used in NZ when the price of velvet was at its highest. In order to harvest velvet from as many stags as possible, 'contractors' were used and in some cases stags were velvetted without an anaesthetic.

    Luckily, the responsible deer farmers themselves outlawed the practice in the fear that the venison consuming countries would boycott NZ venison on welfare grounds.

    The removal of velvet antlers from live stags can be a stressful process, and it is not uncommon for stags to die after velvet antlers have been removed.

    Regards,

    Mike

    Mike Allison
    Managing Director - Jelen Deer Services
    01264 811155

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jelendeer View Post

    The removal of velvet antlers from live stags can be a stressful process, and it is not uncommon for stags to die after velvet antlers have been removed.

    Regards,

    Mike

    Mike Allison
    Managing Director - Jelen Deer Services
    01264 811155
    That may be your own experience but its not shared. Sure it "can" be stressful, but that would come down to the level of stockman ship & skills of those handling the deer. Accreditation ,vet supervision & record keeping are all part of the deal, & the welfare of the animals is the highest importance.

    Raising some high profile negative instances from countries where there are no codes of practice, has very little to do with the harvesting of velvet in this part of the world, so your comments are noteworthy. I would have thought that the UK deer farmers would like another source of income? Or would it cause to much change for those already entrenched in the established deer industry?

    Cheers Sharkey

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by sharkey View Post
    That may be your own experience but its not shared. Sure it "can" be stressful, but that would come down to the level of stockman ship & skills of those handling the deer. Accreditation ,vet supervision & record keeping are all part of the deal, & the welfare of the animals is the highest importance.

    Raising some high profile negative instances from countries where there are no codes of practice, has very little to do with the harvesting of velvet in this part of the world, so your comments are noteworthy. I would have thought that the UK deer farmers would like another source of income? Or would it cause to much change for those already entrenched in the established deer industry?

    Cheers Sharkey
    Hi Sharkey,

    fair comment there. I am sure that NZ and Australia carry out velvetting to high ethical and welfare standards.

    at the beginning of deer farming in the UK some did indeed hope that velvetting would be allowed here, but the BDFA at the time warned that it could show UK deer farming in a negative light, and that the perceived welfare issues could damage the clean, green and ethical image of UK deer farming.

    I think it was a wise decision at the time, and as the UK deer farming industry is now gathering momentum, it is certainly something that we wouldn't benefit from.

    Regards,

    Mike.

  9. #9
    Many thanks for your comments -Its great that the forum can get views fro the other side of the world. So long as the operation is carried out with as much consideration as possible for the doner animal that I would not have any objection to it. Having done a bit more research on the subject it seems that there are few problems with health issues in the NZ industry. What was the most interesting point that I learnt about was the healing properties of velvet.Tests on burns have shown much faster and better outcomes and ditto with other problems . If continued research shows that velvet does indeed have a place in medicine then an interesting ethical argument will no doubt ensue in the UK.

  10. #10
    I was very lucky to get a tour of an elk farm in Canada last summer. They breed for bull elk, to harvest the velvet and to supply game ranches in the USA. It was all terribly well done, with a completely enclosed race leading to a huge hydraulic crush inside a shed. They said they have no problem removing horn in velvet and the bulls recover really quickly. They told me the big bulls can produce up to 40-50lbs of velvet horn at over $100 a lb. Some of these bulls weigh over 1200lbs. To get them to grow well he feeds barley and alfalfa. In a park he had 21 huge bulls who'd been velveted every year but were getting old, so they were going to game ranches, they were massive. It was a very well run place and they obviously care a great deal for their deer but on balance I don't think I'd want to see us doing it here, I think it would equate to castrating calves (cattle) and if done properly stress and discomfort are minimal.

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