Wild Ungulate Breeding in Spain

By Pedro Corell. President of  the Spanish Wild Ungulate Breeders Association – AECUS.
July 2014.



In 1990 Maria Paternottre-Exteberria, representing Spain was part of the founders of FEDFA. At that time there were only 4 deer farmers in Navarra and Guipuzcoa. It was not until 1999 that she founded the Vasco-Navarra Deer Breeders Association, but in 2001 she left the Association and it apparently became extinct.

In southern Spain was completely different. In the early 60s, hunting became very popular and started commercialized. So, the foundation of big game private and fenced "hunting estates” proliferated. With a minimum of 500 ha, currently the law does not allow to fence an area smaller than 1.000 ha. It is estimated that in Spain there are 35.000.000 ha of "hunting estates" spread over some 30.000 estates, of which 3.000 would be for big game. Usually composed of lands that do not even serve for traditional livestock farming, they support very low densities, around 0.2-0.6 deer/ha. These traditional hunting estates themselves are economically unprofitable and their owners keep them for personal reasons or for social relations.

However, the popularity of hunting during the 80s, facilitated that in the early 90's, the breeding of wild boars and red deer, became a regular activity within the large commercial hunting preserves (usually between 1.000 and 12.000 ha) where a small area (50-400 ha) is dedicated for farming: red deer, wild boar, mouflon, etc. .. in smaller fences with supplementary feeding, health treatments and playback control for genetic improvement. However, density usually is lower than 2 hinds per hectare, but since the vast majority of animals in the "farm" are females, the increase of animals available to be hunted in the hunting estate, is sometimes doubling the hunting quotas, transforming it in an economically viable estate. This special type of "hunting estates" was legally recognised in Castilla-La Mancha through the Hunting Law 2/1993 Article 64 as "Industrial exploitation" and later they were regulated through the 1996 Hunting Regulations.

At the same time, the figure of the "hunting farm" was also recognized as "industrial exploitation" as well. So both types of industrial exploitations for breeding wild ungulate were regulated by the same hunting Regulations. However, both have been devoted almost exclusively to breed animals to set them free in hunting estates. Animals cannot be hunted in farm fences by law.

We don't know with certainty the number of alive animals that may be in Spain but we can get an idea based on annual catches and their evolution over recent years. The number of total catch since 1980 has grown at an annual rate of 24%. This indicates that not enough animals are hunted annualy in Spain in order to maintain a stable population of these species.

Over a total amount of captures in 2010-2011 hunting season of 411.649 animals, 54% of all are from wild boar, 32% from Red deer, 7’5% of Roe deer, 3% of Fallow deer and 2% of mouflon, the rest of species with less than 2%. Only 3 regions accumulate nearly 60% of the total catches; Castilla-La Mancha (23% over total, 35% of Red deer y 40% of Fallow deer) Andalucía (22% over total, 37% of Red deer y 39% of Fallow deer) y Extremadura (12% over total, 21% of Red deer y 11% of Fallow deer)

In any case, once they have been hunted, animals (mainly deer and wild boar) are eviscerated in the same "hunting estate" or slaughtered at the "hunting farm" and carcasses, always with skin, are bought by professional butchers, who have specialized in collecting this type of meat at prices ranging from 0,8 to 2,4 €/kg.

A few years ago was founded the "interprofessional bushmeat agency" and "the bushmeat market" as official agencies to try to adjust prices and avoid big fluctuations in the prices. In any case, there is no price differentiation between carcases of animals hunted on driven hunts, from the ones of that animals that have been hunted on stalking, on await or slaughtered by a blow on the head and bleeding close to the refrigerator truck.

The vast majority of carcasses with skin goes just to a few wholesalers very professionalized that are capable of processing up to 2.000 carcases in a weekend and export near to 90% of its production to Germany. Only a very small percentage is consumed in local markets.

So far, have been rare and few the farms which have been breeding animals for venison. But in any case, these deer farms has not yet been recognized as traditional livestock, so they are not included on national programs for the eradication of diseases like any other traditional livestock and are still ruled by the laws of hunting. However, there is a national regulation mandatory for all animals to be transported alive, to verify that they are free of a number of diseases categorized in the Royal Decree 1082/2009, of July 3, laying down animal health requirements for the movement of animals from hunting estates, ungulate farms, zoological and wildlife.

To complicate the situation, the responsibility for hunting are not dependent on Central Government of Spain, but the regional governments, it means that in Spain there are currently 17 different hunting laws. Which complicates much know what is the exact situation in each of the 17 regions of Spain. But in any case deer farming does not receive subsidies.

Currently you can already find farms of all game ungulates, but in all cases the vast majority are dedicated to selling live males for hunting use in preserves, being only some females (of Red and Fallow deer) sacrificed, in the same farm, for venison.At the AGM of FEDFA in February 2013 Dr. Thomas Landete was named vice 2nd of FEDFA and Pedro Corell was accepted to be representative of Spain as future President of the Spanish Association of Wild Ungulate Breeders - AECUS. The association was formally established in late 2013. While there are several associations of landowners and holders of hunting and livestock associations, AECUS is the only national association representing hunting estates and hunting farms specifically for the production of venison. In July 2014 the Association became known publicly and was presented it's website www.aecus.org


Dr. Tomas Landete- Castillejos
Uni. Castilla-La Mancha
02071 Albacete – Spain
Tel. +34/967599200 2621

Mr Antonio Canones

Canones Servicios Cinegeticos SL.

E-mail: antonio@canones-caza.com


Tel. +34-629887997