WHAT ARE FALLOW DEER?
Fallow deer are mammals with a longer tail compared to other
deer, white spots and prominent Adam's apple. There are up to 14
colour variations, ranging from white to butterscotch, light red,
dark red, reddish brown, brown, dark brown and black. They are all
born with white spots which, along with the colour of their coat,
they retain for life.
Females, or does, appear light, smooth and fragile. They tend to
be about 6cm higher at the hips than at the shoulders. Height at the
shoulders (withers) is between 50 to 100cm. The length of the body
is 130 to 175cm.
Males, or bucks, have a heavy or stocky appearance. Bucks have
"pot bellies" and at maturity stand about 90cm, weighing
73 to 90kg. Only males grow antlers. These antlers are shed and
WHERE ARE FALLOW DEER PRODUCED IN BC?
Fallow deer are very adaptable to most conditions except for
those found in very high mountain regions. In BC, there are 14
Licenced fallow deer farms which have approximately 800 animals. These
animals are found throughout the province with a higher
concentration in the Thompson/ Okanagan region.
HOW MANY FALLOW DEER DO WE PRODUCE?
Fallow deer farms make up 20% of the game farm industry in
British Columbia. There are about 800 deer (as of Dec. 31, 2011) slaughtered each year
HOW ARE FALLOW DEER PRODUCED?
The females, or does, are seasonally polyestrus which means they
will cycle only at a certain time of the year. They are referred to
as short-day-breeders as breeding occurs in the fall, being
triggered by environmental factors, mainly changes in the amount of
daylight in a 24-hour period.
During the rut or breeding season, the bucks spend more time
establishing their territories than feeding, therefore, they end up
experiencing dramatic weight loss. The buck will go through
physically demanding feats when in the pre-rut agitation, courtship,
and mating stages.
The gestation period is between seven-and-a-half and eight
months. Fawns are born during June or July when climate and feed
normally favour survival. The average birthweights for farmed fallow
deer are 3.9 to 4.8kg for males and 3.5 to 4.0kg for females.
WHAT DOES FALLOW DEER LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?
Final products include venison, antler velvet and shavings, and
deer fur and hide. The fur and hide is used for rugs and clothing.
Reindeer meat is called venison. Resulting from changes in
lifestyles toward healthier living and eating, specifically
concerning red meat, consumers are demanding more game farmed
venison than ever before. Game farmed venison has been proven to
have a lower fat and cholesterol content than most red meats. The
demand for venison meat has increased greatly in the last few years
and continues to grow rapidly.
Antler velvet and shavings are exported to various countries.
Some of the Asian countries provide a good market where antler
shavings are used for medicinal purposes to increase vitality,
energy and the overall health of a person. Some take it as an
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE FALLOW DEER LEAVES THE FARM?
Fallow deer are transported to processing facilities where the
animals are slaughtered and processed. The product is distributed by
producers or wholesalers to retail stores, restaurants and novelty
WHAT CHALLENGES DO FALLOW DEER PRODUCERS FACE?
One challenge that fallow deer farmers face is the perception
that venison is a meat to be eaten only in autumn and winter. Some
restaurants, for example, remove venison from their menus when the
weather warms. To counter this, there is a need for increased
promotion and exposure to improve the year-round market for venison.
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING FALLOW DEER?
- Game farmers
- Slaughterhouses (processors)
- Meat packers
Interesting Fact About Fallow Deer:
In 1990, the bulk of venison sold in BC was imported from New
Zealand. Today, approximately 80% of the market is being served by
BC fallow deer producers. There has been an increase in the number
of restaurants serving venison and the number of stores selling
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