Running a deer park

Zeissman

Well-Known Member
Hi all,

I have a contact who is keen to buy a deer park and has asked me to source some info in a professional capacity. There are red and fallow herds currently on the land which is only about 100 acres. The questions that I have been given are:

What is the minimum herd size to prevent inbreeding, problems, etc.?
What proportion of park deer need to be culled annually?
Can red and fallow herds be left open to each other or would it be best to pick one and stick with it?

What is the cost of a deer (sex/size/age dependent of course) for live beasts for both red and fallow?
Dead cost of beasts (what is venison going for in SW England at the mo)?
Can the annual cull be done in one day? It sounds quite traumatic to me.

To be clear, this is not the way I would approach the whole thing, especially with a cull condensed like that, but I have little experience in park deer so am happy to be educated!

All help gratefully received!

Z.
 

gsorense

Well-Known Member
Are you saying he has identified a 100 acre parcel of land that he wants to turn into a deer park? If so then the best start would surely be to contain the resident population and add a decent stag if required.
 

bijssg

Well-Known Member
All I will say is that don’t buy the deer park as an investment or to make money, I just about break even. Fallow and red are fine together fallow keeps themselves to themselves but are harder to cull hence why I prefer reds but fallow more desirable for meat. The cost of purchasing live deer is rediculous in my eyes not to mention the darting cost per animal on top. A breeding stag anything from 500 to multiple thousands increasing with age. I do know there’s a grey area regarding moving them, also with drugs used nowerdays what can and can’t go into the food chain, Iv live caught them in a livestock box before feeding them in it over several weeks. 1.50 pp roughly in the jacket to a game dealer about average atm. Annual cull simply depends on how many deer you want shot every winter if it’s three yes if you wnt to build the herd up for a few years then start culling then no it’s not fair to the deer the deers welfare come first in my eyes. Never had interbreeding issues however new stags have been brought in every decade or so. Hope this helps I’m by no means an expert and always learning myself enjoy your journey.

Bij
 

trucraft

Well-Known Member
I would strongly suggest he look at getting some formal training in deer farming. Sparsholt springs to mind.
Or go and spend a day with a deer manager on one of the many established park.
As Bij said not easy to run as a profitable business but if it's just as a hobby then it would only involve one man's time for a couple of hours a day. (Most of the year)
You could be able to cover your costs or most of them.
If the lands going to be rented and needs fencing it would be a long term investment.

If I had the money and land I would do it.
I managed a park in Norfolk for a few years and really enjoyed it. Much more interesting than most livestock.
 

pitiliedon

Well-Known Member
The quality of the ground is paramount and will to a large extent limit what can be done. It,s one thing to breed deer another to finish them well.culling large numbers with a rifle on limited space will potentially cause serious stress issues giving purple carcasses and is basically unpleasant to do if at heart your a hunter. Raising deer is very interesting and you learn all the time. If it,s to be more than a hobby then I would suggest the best ground and best farmedstock you can afford to hit the ground running ,as breeding up from indifferent stock to achieve the longer backed uniform carcasses of farmed stock takes years,and there,s little point I re-inventing the wheel
 

Dan Newcombe

Well-Known Member
No offence intended but in a professional capacity it strikes me that you are out of your depth in such a specialist area, probably better to point them in the direction of an expert rather than potentially have it come and bite you in the arse.

100 acres isn't a great deal but at the same time fencing all of that will be a massive capital cost, better to get it right first time round.
 

howa243

Well-Known Member
I have a few deer enclosed in that kind of area. As has been said its not a way to make money but it can be very enjoyable. I would recommend it as a hobby but not as a source of income. I couldn't imagine doing a cull of that nature in one day. The deer will be completely freaked out and will be charging all over the place with nowhere to go. Personally when I have to do it, I do it until I feel that the process is causing concern in the herd and then pack up. Ideally you would find someone who could take the calves. This means that you can keep you hinds for many productive years. If you don't you will end up choosing to shoot young animals or ones in their prime and frankly this is not great. A great deal depends on who will be taking the carcasses. If its a game dealer then he will make no money. If its a butcher/restaurant he might but it will not be enough to cover the costs of labour. I used to supply the odd carcass to farm shops and when you take into account skinning and butchery its not worth it. If you could get several such enterprises together and hire a butcher for a day a week during the seasons then maybe. If you are supplying local food businesses then different specis with different body weights may work. If its a game dealer then stick to reds. They are brill, easy to take care of, bags of character and a decent weight. I have a bigger park next to me and I believe they have not introduced any new blood to it for 80 years so not sure that inbreeding is the problem some make it our to be.

Capital expenditure is high. Fencing is very expensive and doesn't last forever. I have had the park for around ten years and the posts in the first paddock I had fenced are now breaking. You will need a chiller and a decent sized one that will hold a reasonable cull is expensive. The cull you are talking about would need a huge chiller, unless of course the reason to do it in a day is to obviate the need for one (assume it is).

Not sure I agree with the consultant idea. The reality is that you will make no money, so anything which makes the establishment more expensive just increases the pain. That said you will make fewer mistakes.

I get around £2.70 a kilo my costs are around £4/5k a year ( excluding time) and consequently I lose money, but I enjoy doing so.

If he does it he will enjoy it.
 

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