Deer Farming in Britain

Modern deer farming has developed from work done at the Rowett Research Institute in Scotland in the early 1970s Encouraged by the need for diversification in agriculture there was an initial boom in livestock prices but the industry suffered severe competition from venison imported from both Eastern Europe and New Zealand, this led to a reduction in price to a more realistic level. As a result the number of deer farmed and the number of farms has fluctuated. There was an increase in the total number of farmed deer from 36 000 in 1989 to 55 000 in 1993, of these approximately 50% were breeding hinds. Total numbers then fell back in 1995 to the 1989 total, falling a further 10% giving a total herd in 1998 of 32 000 on 311 farms. Now there is approximately 21,000 farmed deer on 160 farms. The national Red deer herd represents 90% of the total, the balance are Fallow. Total consumption of farmed venison is estimated to be approximately 750 tonnes per annum of which around 550 tonnes is home produced. The market has recently become stronger and there is renewed confidence in the industry with wholesale prices for farmed venison carcases around £5.50 per kg.


The British Deer Farms and Parks Association exists to provide deer farmers and deer park managers with a means of communication through conferences, open days, and all other appropriate means, so as to improve the management and welfare of enclosed deer; and also to represent the interests of deer keepers by lobbying and providing information to British and European governments, by liaising with the media, responding to enquiries, and promoting deer farming, park keeping and venison consumption.

The BDFPA was formed in November 1978 to further the interests of deer farmers. It was national body representing deer farming to government. However, it became obvious that the large number of Parks were not represented in the name BDFA, and so it was changed to BDFPA in 2010, in order to accommodate the Parks. Membership is open to anyone interested in deer farming; it now represents the interests of the majority of British deer farmers and Park owners. It is closely involved in the improvement of deer farming methods, and in co-operation with government sponsored research and advisory services and with the veterinary profession, helps the advancement of education and research into deer farming.

On the political front, it pursues actively the interests of deer keepers by keeping a watching brief on the activities of government organisation and of Parliament itself. It was deeply involved in drawing up the EC Game Meat Directive, which now governs deer farming in the community. It was also instrumental in setting up the Federation of European Deer Farmers Association (FEDFA) to represent deer farming interests in Brussels.

It raises an annual subscription on all farming and park members which funds its work and its most significant achievement has been to differentiate the market for farmed/park and wild game. Farmed game is produced to quality standards; a Quality Mark was awarded in 1992. The BDFPA has developed and promoted the Quality Assured Farmed Venison scheme to further differentiate its product from both wild and imported venison and to help maintain a price premium for farmed venison over game. The Association organises a wide range of activities from training courses and an annual conference to farm open day and attendance at national agricultural and food shows. It publishes an annual Handbook for members.,

(Updated 2014-07 by  Mr Dan DeBaerdemaecker)



(Past President - FEDFA)

British Deer Farmers' Association (BDFA)

Mervinslaw Estate

The Old Abbey Manse

Oxnam Road




Tel: + (44) 1835 869664

Fax: +(44) 1835 862485



(Past President - FEDFA)


Reediehill Deer Farm



Fife KY14 7HS


Tel: + (44) 01337 828369

Fax: + (44) 01337 827001

Mobile: + (44) 802 444128



Tony Armitage
John Fletcher