Deer farming has been well established for a century or more in the Far East. However, it is a new enterprise elsewhere which during recent years has been increasingly accepted as an economically promising industry. New species have been successfully tried and farming techniques are becoming more sophisticated. Many deer farms are, however, improperly run because either the owners or managers are not up-to-date with deer husbandry methods, or they lack relevant knowledge of the biology of the species concerned.
It is hoped that this manual will serve a useful purpose by providing guidelines for novice deer farmers, wherever they may happen to be in the world.
An effort has been made to use as little technical phraseology as possible, so that readers are not put off by language that they cannot understand. The major references on deer farming and related subjects are included for the benefit of those readers who would wish to pursue various aspects in more detail.
No effort is made to give a complete coverage of the deer industry, rather husbandry and range management techniques are emphasized. Packaging and marketing of end-products are not covered nor are the socio-economic aspects of deer farming.
In future, deer farms could play an important role in rural land use planning, because they can be established as economically viable units on land that is presently marginal to conventional live-stock farming operations or other types of land use. This is one reason why deer farming could be relevant in developing countries, where the development of this industry seems feasible.
By “deer farming” is meant the husbandring of deer populations for the production of deer meat and by-products - including hides, velvet, antlers and musk, - on a commercial basis.
Instead of discussing the farming of various deer species separately, management problems are presented under different pertinent headings. As most of the farming literature deals with red deer, that species is referred to more frequently. It is believed, however, that management techniques developed for them are to a large extent applicable to the other species also.
Although deer farming is not aimed at the protection of endangered species, nevertheless among the 27 deer species and subspecies which are considered threatened by extinction, there are two which have been maintained on farms, namely the Himalayan musk deer and the Formosa sika. In other words, deer farming can and does play a role in wildlife conservation.