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What is Deer Antler Velvet?

Deer antler velvet refers to antler in its growing, pre-calcified state.

Deer antlers are used primarily for mating purposes, to battle other male deer for mating rights. Male deer grow their first set of antlers when they hit puberty, at approximately one year of age.

When the antlers are growing, they are soft to the touch or spongy. Unlike horns, which are keratinized tissue, antlers are organs. They have blood vessels, nerves, skin, cartilage and bone. The outermost layer of skin covering a growing antler is hair-like in appearance and texture, and is simply called ‘velvet.’ Deer antler velvet is also commonly referred to as deer velvet, deer velvet antler, and lu rong (in Traditional Chinese Medicine).

Deer antler velvet has been consumed by humans for thousands of years. It can be taken as a dietary supplement for general health or used therapeutically to treat specific conditions.

Growth Cycle of Deer Antler Velvet

Testosterone plays an important part of the antler cycle. The seasonal changes in the amount of daylight ultimately control the secretion of the reproductive hormone testosterone in males.  Growth of antlers typically begins in spring, as testosterone levels increase in response to increasing day light. A deer’s antlers can grow at a rate of ¼ inch per day. In just four months, deer antlers are fully developed.

Antler growth is one of the fastest known types of tissue growth in mammals, and the only example of an organ that is shed and regrown each year.

Towards the middle of summer, the antlers reach their full size and the cartilage in the antler begins to calcify. By late summer, when testosterone levels are at their peak, the blood vessels shut down around the base of the antlers and the antlers harden into bone.

Hard antlers remain on the deer through the peak until late fall or early winter. As the deer’s testosterone levels drop off, the antlers are shed. Antlers are grown and shed every year.

Deer antlers require a great deal of nutrients and energy to grow. Only the healthiest deer can grow large antlers. Hard antlers are comprised mostly out of calcium and phosphorus. Because deer do not consume much calcium as part of their diet, and the calcium in the antlers is produced by chemical reactions in their bodies, which draws heavily on the animal’s mineral reserves. Therefore, the size of antlers is an external demonstration of a deer’s fitness.


"Deer antler velvet" is commonly described as the fuzzy, hair-like layer of skin on a growing antler. This is completely inaccurate. Deer antler velvet refers to the entire growing antler, NOT the outer covering. The outer covering is actually removed before processing and does not make its way into our product in any shape or form.

Some competitors erroneously state that their deer antler velvet and deer antler spray products are made from the outer covering of antlers. This glaring mistake demonstrates that these companies know nothing about deer antler velvet- what it is, how it is collected, and how it is processed. These "companies" simply put a label on a pre-made product in a rushed attempt to capitalize on the rising use of deer antler velvet. These companies have no real interest in selling a good product. Their representatives have likely never stepped foot in New Zealand, nor have they ever even seen a deer farm in their lifetime.

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