DEER FARMING IN DENMARK

 

 

Deer farming started in Denmark in the early 1980’s. Today there are approximately 650 farms with an estimated population of 12,000 breeding does (Fallow deer) and 2000 breeding hinds (Red deer). Deer kept on deer farms are classified as domestic stock and the meat produced (venison) is veterinary inspected ante- and post-mortem and classified as red meat. The annual production of farmed venison is approximately 100 tonnes, which is all domestically consumed. 200 tonnes of farmed venison is imported, mostly from New Zealand.

Production systems are very simple due to the seasonal nature of the deer. Calving always takes place in May/ June (Red deer) or June/ July (Fallow deer). The calves are typically weaned either pre-rut (30%) or post-rut (50%) and then wintered and fed separately from the breeding herd, either in stables on straw bedding or in a sheltered paddock. Aside from certain management advantages, one of the most important features of housing the calves is the taming effect. Since 1st August 1993 housing of deer has been banned in Denmark.

On most farms multi-sire mating is used. Only a few farms tag the calves at birth, register calf-dam relations and monitor growth rates in the calves and yearlings.

The health status of the national deer herd is very high. After having imported Bovine Tuberculosis in deer in the mid-eighties, Denmark was the first country in the world to implement and complete a compulsory eradication programme for TB on deer farms.

 

Research and Advisory Services

 

The research and development activities in the area of cattle and small ruminants was carried out in close co-operation between the Department of Research in Cattle and Sheep at NIAS and the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, other Universities in Denmark and abroad, national and private research institutes, farmers’ organisations and associations and private companies within the trade.

There is close co-operation between the advisory services and the research institutes. This contributes to the relevance of research results and to an efficient and quick transfer of results to practice.

The National Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) has conducted a research programme on deer farming since October 1985. Research has concentrated on production systems for calves and yearlings for slaughter, and the resulting impact on economy and overall farm management. The main objective has been to spread the slaughter season to supply fresh venison on a year-round basis and thus improve competition with imported frozen venison. The effect of different winter feeding and housing systems, with or without subsequent summer grazing, on feed intake, growth and feed efficiency, has been assessed. The effect on carcase quality, meat quality and eating quality (using taste panel assessment) has also been evaluated. Results have shown that it is possible to slaughter Red deer stag calves/ yearlings from December, at 5 months of age, through till August at 14 months of age, without negative effects on carcase quality, meat quality or eating quality. Fallow deer buck calves should be slaughtered at lower carcase weights if slaughtered from the stable, compared to slaughter from pasture, in order to avoid over-fatness.

In the period 1989 - 1992 a national advisory service on deer farming was set up. Three local cattle advisors have been appointed and have specialised in advice on deer production. They rely on the Institute’s deer farming expertise for the solution of any problems occurring. The Institute is still supervising national activities.

The advisory service was organised by the farmers’ organisations and managed by the users, i.e. the farmers, and consists of two levels, national and local. Due to the depression and the declining profitability in deer farming in the late nineties, the deer farmers have shown a falling interest in co-operation with the advisory services.

 

The Danish Deer Farmers’ Association

 

The Danish Deer Farmers’ Association was founded on 8th November 1985. It counts approximately 170 active deer farming members, 70 with more than 10 breeding does/ hinds and 100 with less than 10 breeding does/ hinds.

The main purposes of the association are:

- to study and spread the knowledge of deer farming and to promote the economy of

the trade;

- to advise on matters concerning deer farming;

- to represent deer farmers’ interests as opposed to government, institutions and other associations.

The Danish deer farming magazine, "Hjorteavleren", is published by the association four times a year. Newsletters are published whenever the need arises.

Representatives

ASGER WIUFF ANDERSEN

Treasurer and representative for Denmark

Tolstrupvej 4

4682 Tureby

Denmark

Tel: +(45) 56 28 28 90

Mob: + (45) 24911100

E-mail: aa@rawa.dk

 

MOGENS MADSEN

Springbakgaardsvej

9240 Nibe

Denmark

Tel: +(45) 98 35 52 48 

E-mail: mom@adslhome.dk

Photos

Asger Wiuff Andersen