Way back a long time ago, before, well before many things existed, human beings realized that planting crops might be a heck of a lot easier than foraging for fruits and berries. It wasn’t much longer before man realized that harnessing the power of an animal might not only make tilling the ground a whole lot easier, it might even allow him to farm a LOT bigger area. And thus, the full potential of domesticated animals was realized. Even through the churning noisiness of the industrial revolution of the world, human beings still rely heavily on the farming of animals and animal byproducts. And that pretty much catches us up to today, well into the 21st century, and a brief rundown of the worldwide industry of deer farming.
Deer farming, all things considered, is actually a fairly young practice. Some articles suggest the first evidence of commercial deer farming of whitetails in the U.S. is from around the turn of the 20th century. The practice of cultivating whitetail deer has evolved dramatically over the last hundred or so years, but the practice persists and is even growing. North American whitetails are incredible animals and have been pursued, cultivated and protected by humans for a long time.
In the early 1900s, the North American whitetail deer population had been all but wiped out. Their plentiful numbers had made them a primary harvest for the country’s rather rough approach to western expansion…sort of a “Manifest Destiny” approach to conservation, if you will. Like-minded individuals gathered their forces and began an conservationist approach to the indigenous animals as well as begin the practice of raising them domestically. Deer farming was begun.
Today, deer farming is a common practice in U.S. There are two sides to the industry, one being the raising of predominantly whitetail deer for further breeding, stocking, and eventual hunting goals, the other being the raising of mostly non-native to North America, exotic deer species for slaughter and consumption. While they fall under the same colored banner, these two practices could not be more different from each other.
Venison is a delicacy in most cultures. It is a lean meat, exotic tasting and high in protein. Deer farming for consumption is a healthy industry that supplies a wonderful meat with a very high demand to discerning connoisseurs. Deer farming for consumption is usually on a very large scale and is really quite like any other commercial farming ventures. The industry is subject to the regulations of the FDA, and therefore tailored very differently than a deer breeding program for stocking and hunting purposes. Deer farmed for consumption are bred with an emphasis on body size, bone structure and other factors that must be considered when farming an animal for harvest. There is very little, if any, emphasis on the antler genetics of the deer, and the only consideration of antler size or the differentiation at all between male and female is that velvet antlers can be sold in Asia as foodstuffs. Quite a bit unlike farming for antler genetics, isn’t it?
Ranching or farming whitetails as a breeder is something quite different, although both are profitable enterprises catering to high-demand markets. It is a more concise practice that focuses on the details of a whitetail deer antler genetics, the nuances that makes them such a pursued game animal. Deer breeding requires a smaller, more controlled environment, with pen and facility layout that requires months of planning and careful attention. Breeders must take painstaking steps that their highly specialized deer not only reach full, healthy, physical condition, but that they carry in them very specific, very special DNA. As genetic products, bred stocker deer are inexorably tied to their ancestry, and breeders make it their job to see to it that those genetics are as impressive and unquestionable as possible.
The deer farming industry continues to thrive in a safe and humane way. And as a result, there is more information available than ever before on the proper care of the animals themselves as well as emerging technology that refines the industry ever further. We can look forward to many years of excellent nourishment and even better hunting!