by Franz Vogelmayer

Deer farming in Austria has a long history. The agricultural keeping of deer has been documented since the 1st century. In the Middle Ages, Fallow deer were kept in royal parks because of their tender and digestible meat; always to be able to offer fresh deer meat at any opportunity. But then over the centuries that way of keeping deer disappeared.

About thirty years ago some farmers who were seeking a new way of utilising grassland for meat production started farming Fallow deer again. In order to support these pioneers, regional associations of deer farmers were founded. The first group to get together was the Organisation of Deer Farmers in Upper Austria in 1981. Then associations in other regions of Austria followed.

The following table shows the number of farms and animals in 1999 (authority: livestock census).

Region Deer farmers Deer

Upper Austria 662 12787

Lower Austria 361 7770

Styria 441 9539

Carinthia 179 5120

Burgenland 66 1140

Other regions 241 3015

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Total 1950 39371

As the figures show, most farms are small with an average fenced area of 3 hectares with about 20 animals. Many farms are situated in less favoured areas with hills and mountains. Approximately 70% are Fallow deer, 25% Red deer and 5% Sika deer.


About 25% of all deer farmers are members of a regional association. Employees of the regional chambers of agriculture, which have a similar task to farmers unions in other countries, are secretaries of these associations. Deer farmers get much support from the chambers of agriculture because they have specialists who can give advice on production, marketing and law.

In 1997 the regional associations founded a national organisation called "Arbeitsgemeinschaft der landwirtschaftlichen Wildhalter Osterreichs". It is the primary task of this organisation to represent the deer farmers in negotiations with ministries and other federal authorities.

Activities of the Associations

After the foundation of the regional associations the main task was to offer production guidance and to support farmers in starting this new, previously unknown, production. In recent years support in all areas of direct marketing has gained importance.

Regular circulars inform the members about new legal rules, themes of commercialisation and activities of the associations, e.g. co-operation in developing legal regulations, participation in fairs, press releases, seminars, the preparation of brochures and leaflets and excursions.

Rules for Deer Farming

Law of Hunting - In Austria, deer farming is ruled by the law of hunting or, in some regions, by the law of animal welfare. On the basis of these regulations, deer farming for meat production is only authorised on farms. Permission from the district administration is requird for every new enclosure. Fallow, Red, Sika and Mufflon are permitted for agricultural production. The forest may amount to a maximum of 15% of the fenced area.

Meat inspection and the regulation of meat hygiene - Slaughter of farmed deer is subject to the law of meat inspection similar to other types of livestock production. Therefore rooms for slaughtering, cutting and processing deer have to fulfill the same standards as slaughterhouses for cattle, pigs or sheep. So the consumer has guarantees that deer meat from Austrian farms has a high standard of hygiene.


From the beginning the Austrian deer farmers were in competition with imported venison, especially from Eastern European and overseas countries. Selling meat directly to consumers has always been the best way to achieve an acceptable price, so the client living near the house of the farmer has always been very important. It is a crucial activity of the deer farmers associations to give support to this way of marketing. They publish brochures and other means of advertising. The members are continuously informed about new regulations. Various activities take place to facilitate the work of deer farmers.

Deer farming is an opportunity for grassland, land which otherwise would soon be covered by wood, because no-one else would be interested in cultivating it. So deer farming also helps to maintain the typical picture of the Austrian landscape.


Invitation to AGM and MGM March 26-27 in Prague

To all National representativesInvitation to all National representatives FEDFA, and applying delegate from Russia.

The AGM meeting  in Federation of European Deer Farmers’ Associations  2015 will take place in Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CULS).
The meeting will start at Thursday 26. March, 2015  at 17:00. 
We will end at 19:00 and continue on Friday 27. March at. 09:00 – 15:00.
When AGM is finished we will go on  with the MGM meeting.

All details and agendas is published on HOME-page.


Autumn meeting in Poland

We welcome to Autumn meeting in Poland 3-6. october 2014.


3.10.2014: days of arriving. Place of destination is Deer Farm Sloja, Kolonia Słoja, 16-113 Szudzialowo. This is small village near Sokolka (,23.8701838,9z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x46e009837e37d38b:0xbafbe587213bf9cd) on the road No. 674 from Sokolka to Krynki.

Best Air port is Warsaw, than train to Bialystok (200 km, 2,5 hour). We will organize a few free of charge cars to take to destination (about 40 km) all peoples coming by train to Bialystok.

We will offer the free accommodations  at Deer Farm Sloja at our hostels for workers picking up blueberry during season, hostels are empty at this time and good enough, I think  ;-) For people, which wants to book something higher quality, we will sent a few addresses  around (up to 10 km), at their own expense.

We are try to organize some late dinner at place in this day, for free of course.

4.10.2014: main day of meeting.

08:00-10:00 MGM meeting  FEDFA, 2 hours before late breakfast  for everybody.
We have special room (grill house) big enough to organize this, at the farm.

11:00 visiting by bus ) the Bialousy,  village about 40 km, to see the organization of blueberry farm and small fallow and red deer farm (with handling system).

 A little lunch (free) and back to Słoja Deer Farm and explore appropriate deer farm, with showing handling live deer too.

18:00-19:30 Continue MGM FEDFA meeting.

20:00 Completion of a common dinner in shelter grill (free, with venison of course).


09:00 -11:00 MGM meeting FEDFA
12:00 extra day to explore the surrounding area by bus (3 most interesting places). Completion of a common supper in the last place, evening to night. Bus will be free, tickets and meals on the way and final at own expense.

6.10.2014: departures. Help in getting on the train, etc., free.

Send mail to:            or                Bartek:

How many people,  date and time  of arrival and departure,  need for accommodation  (at the farm or other)        Before sep.10

Agenda MGM Meeting in Poland

4. oct 2014. 08:00-11:00   (to continue 5. Oct. 09:00)

1.       Welcome
2.       Apologies
3.       Minutes from Prag 2014
4.       Financial Repor
5.       National reports

I would also suggest that every delegate before the MGM prepare National report to be presented for the meeting. The report should contain:
- Status
- Number of farms, animals, prices, customers
- Slaughter “systems”
- Relation to  Authorities (practicing 853, 854 etc)
- Deer farming in the future in my country, what to do more/less?
- Challenges
- Input to the FEDFA Presidium
- AoB

6.       FEDFA web site: What do the members think?
7.       Where do we want FEDFA to go in the future ? Input from all member Countries

We  would like that every member country should have a process around the topic, this process  will for some start before the MGM, but probably for most start after the MGM (?) My hope is that we should have a good democratic process that include all members, and maybe be ready for small or big change (or no change) in the Constitution at the AGM in Spring. 

8.       Spring meeting 2015 and AGM, Where and when?
9.       Autumn meeting 2015, Where and when?
10.    AOB


Some Changes might come.

2014.08.07      Morten Nystad   -president FEDFA