Velvet antler is defined as growing antler which contains an abundant blood and nerve supply and which has a fully intact skin with a covering of soft fine hair. Hard antler is the antler when growth has ceased, calcification has occurred, and the skin, nerve and blood supply are no longer functional.
Velvet antler is 'the deer antler during its phase of rapid growth', and it gets the name ‘velvet‘ because of its velvet-like covering of hair.
Deer antlers are bony outgrowths of the skull. Deer antler tissue is nevertheless very different to the skull in both structure and composition.
Velvetting is the removal of velvet, which is growing antler containing an abundant blood and nerve supply and which has a fully intact skin with a covering of soft fine hair. The process of velvetting is strictly controlled for animal welfare and food safety reasons.
New Zealand red and fallow deer are known for the quality of their antlers among international hunters who visit our game estates for the chance to shoot a trophy stag. Game estates are not part of the NZ deer farming industry.
Management of velvet stags
Advice on the nutrition, stocking and handling of velvetting and trophy stags from weaners to mixed-age
Health, Safety and Food Hygiene Guidelines for Velvet Competitions and Stag Sales
Velvet competitions and stag sales are important events in the industry's calendar. Displayed velvet is a food product requiring appropriate hygiene measures while live animals present health and safety challenges.
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Handling weaners and stags
Consideration of the age of the deer you are handling will impact on management and handling techniques.