4,612 farmed deer were slaughtered for their meat (venison) in the UK in 2010.
Production and welfare
UK producers mainly farm red deer although some use fallow deer.
Red deer are considered a popular livestock species as they have a long reproductive life of over 15 years and they produce low-fat meat.
Some deer may be housed over winter or continuously housed.
For most of the year deer form single-sex groups, only coming together during the mating season.
Deer calves may be artificially weaned during the first five-to-eight weeks, through feeding sheep/goat milk.
Antlers on male deers are usually removed for safety reasons.
Deer can suffer from many of the same diseases as cattle such as tuberculosis, Johne’s disease, foot and mouth, and bluetongue. Poor farming management can lead to injuries and diseases through inappropriate handling and transportation.
Transport and slaughter
Deer are slaughtered at one to two years of age by shooting them in the field, transporting them to a slaughterhouse, or using a specialist slaughterhouse facility onsite.