How is Deer Antler Velvet Collected?
No deer are killed or harmed for deer antler velvet.
To be effective as a nutrient rich supplement, deer antler velvet must be collected or harvested approximately midway through their growth stage, prior to their calcification. Because calcified, hardened antler does not have any blood supply, antler that is shed does not provide the nutrients desired for medicinal purposes. Therefore, the collection of deer antler velvet is usually done at the half grown stage just prior to the last budding of the main branch.
Deer antler velvet is at its optimal composition between 55 to 65 days of growth. The exact timing of deer velvet collection balances the maximum length of the branch and the minimum calcification of the lower section of the antler.
Deer Antler Velvet Removal
Deer antler velvet is humanely removed using local anesthesia, under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Deer antler velvet removal is a relatively quick and painless procedure designed to minimize stress for the animal. A tourniquet is placed just below the base of the antler and anesthesia is applied. The velvet antler is removed with a clean, sharp cutting instrument in less than 30 seconds.
Deer are naturally a skittish animal. But our deer are not afraid of humans. This shows that our velvet collection procedure does not cause any stress or trauma to them. The photo above shows one of our highest producing stags just two weeks after velvet removal. As you can see, the deer is perfectly relaxed and approachable by the farmer.
Deer velvet removal is considered a surgical procedure in New Zealand, and each procedure requires the monitoring and supervision of veterinarian who is a licensed and trained by the National Velvetting Standards Body (NVSB). Antler removal is performed at our government licensed facility in compliance with a strict code of practice to confirm the animals are unharmed and that essential hygiene standards are followed.
Before, during and after the procedure, our deer are visually evaluated to certify the animals are in good health. Our deer are returned to the free range, only with other de-antlered deer. Once a deer has had its antlers removed, it must be herded separately from antlered animals to prevent injury by antlered males. Antlered deer can and do injure or kill other deer. Leaving antlers on deer is dangerous to other deer and to the farmers. Therefore, removal of antlers is required on deer farms, even when deer antler velvet is not being collected.
The New Zealand Deer Antler Velvet Industry
As a whole, the New Zealand deer industry is committed to the welfare of deer during antler removal and has undertaken extensive scientific research into this subject. These research findings underpin the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Stags during the Removal of Velvet, published by the government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. The Code was developed in association with the New Zealand Veterinary Association and animal welfare groups. The processing of deer antler velvet is regulated by the New Zealand governments Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) as well as the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA).
New Zealand is a pioneer of the deer industry and viewed as a leader by the international community. The country is ideal for deer farming, with its mild climate and low pollution. Deer absolutely flourish here. In time, New Zealand has become the world’s biggest producer of deer antler velvet and deer velvet supplements. The industry is extensive in its scale and operation, raising 6,000 deer and generating 450 tons of deer antler velvet per year. New Zealand has established high standards in farming that other countries aspire to. This video below shows the beautiful landscape of New Zealand and its deer farms.
Antler Farms® deer are raised in cruelty free, humane conditions in full compliance of government regulations.
Our family owned farms are staffed by veteran farmers and certified veterinarians who practice great care to ensure that our deer antler velvet is harvested ethically and humanely.
WHY ARE ANTLER FARMS® PRODUCTS STRONGER THAN THE REST?
Deer antler velvet is sold on the open market primarily by weight. Low grade deer antler velvet/deer antler spray manufacturers intentionally harvest their deer antler velvet at a suboptimal time to increase the weight. These companies purposely delay the collection to 70 days or longer to maximize their inventory despite the fact that the active ingredients of the deer antler velvet decreases dramatically during this time frame. In other words, our competitors willingly produce a lower quality product in order to have more product for sale.
Antler Farms® deer antler velvet is collected at the peak of potency. As the leading manufacturer of the world's best deer antler velvet products, we never take shortcuts. We raise naturally healthy, free grazing deer because only the healthiest deer will produce the finest deer antler velvet and deer antler spray. We monitor the growth of antler for each deer very closely to determine the optimal time for collection, which varies by individual animal. By putting in this additional effort, we significantly increase the strength and effectiveness of our products.
How are Antler Farms® Deer Raised?
Our customers often have questions about our deer. They have concerns over the treatment and welfare of the deer. We completely understand, and we share the same interest in our animals.
First and foremost, remove all preconceptions related to American factory farming of beef, chicken, pork, egg and dairy from of your mind. Our deer are not raised this way.
Our deer are naturally healthy and thrive on our farms. They roam on rich, abundant, open pastures and eat what they are supposed to eat - grass.
Antler Farms® is home to a robust herd of red deer in the Canterbury region of South Island, New Zealand. Our deer are raised naturally. We do not use growth hormones, ever. Antibiotics are only used to treat a deer that is ill; it is not administered as part of their regular care.
Our deer have been carefully bred by pairing the fittest, most vibrant animals. We document the genealogy to promote strong, proven bloodlines. Our goal is to raise the healthiest deer that in turn produce the strongest, most nutrient rich deer antler velvet.
Our Deer Antler Velvet Standards
We are very selective in the deer we farm. 80-90% of the red deer population in New Zealand would not meet our standards.
We are looking for a particular type of deer, raised in a particular way, producing a particular shape and size of deer velvet, collected at a particular time and in a particular way.
At Antler Farms®, we set the bar very high. Because of our requirements, we could not and would not purchase our velvet from a collective like most companies (see the note below). We know exactly where our deer velvet came from - our farms. It is very rare for deer antler velvet supplement companies to operate in this manner, but we believe it is the only way to maintain the integrity of the product, by overseeing every step of the process.
OUR COMPETITORS DON'T KNOW WHERE THEIR ANTLER VELVET COMES FROM
While we obtain our deer antler velvet directly from our farms, most companies obtain their deer antler velvet from a collective.
Collectives purchase velvet from New Zealand deer farmers and sell the best velvet to buyers in Korea, China and other parts of Asia. Asian buyers are interested only in high quality velvet slices, leaving the less desirable velvet for the rest of the world.
Lower quality velvet is purchased by contract manufacturers to make capsules or extracts. Sometimes this material can include antler that is deformed, broken, damaged, or calcified.
Contract manufacturers produce and package deer antler velvet for multiple companies (i.e., our competitors). These contract manufacturers and companies simply do not have access to the best quality raw material. Additionally, they have no way of knowing where their deer antler velvet came from, how the deer were raised, how the velvet was collected, and how it was processed. Therefore, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for our competitors to make substantial claims about the quality of their deer antler velvet products.
At Antler Farms®, we know exactly where our deer antler velvet comes from. We have strict requirements and are therefore very selective about what we use in our products.
Read more about deer antler velvet.