When people usually talk about deer, they are talking about how they just got back from a hunt or about how they are going to do out.
But deer can also be great animals to raise on your farm.
So the top tips for raising deer on your farm include having plenty of space for your deer, making sure you provide adequate food, figuring out how to feed the deer from outside their enclosure, finding a veterinarian that can handle your deer, being aware of and knowing the signs of diseases in deer, and purchasing adequate fencing to keep your deer contained.
Read on to find out some benefits of raising deer.
There are many reasons to consider raising deer on your farm.
Deer meat is becoming more and more popular throughout the United States.
Venison is nice, lean meat, which includes that it is low in fat and very healthy.
So having easy access to that meat is definitely a plus.
Deer also have a very long life span.
They can live up to 20 years and can reproduce for most of those years.
They can also be relatively easy to take care of, as long as you leave the males alone during the mating season.
Given enough space to graze, they should be able to be pretty self-sufficient.
Lastly, their antlers and hide can also be used to sell once the deer have been slaughtered for their meat, giving you another source of income.
Check your local laws
The first thing you’ll want to do is check your local and state laws to see if you can even have a deer in your area.
After you’ve done a little bit of research, you might find that your local laws don’t allow you.
But you’ll always want to check first so you don’t invest a bunch of money just to find out you can’t have them.
If local laws do allow for deer, they might limit how many you can have.
So again, make sure to check the local and state laws first before you purchase anything for keeping deer.
Purchase any permits you might need and then you can start planning.
Have plenty of space for your deer
After you’ve confirmed that your local area allows you to have deer, you then need to make sure you have enough space on your farm to keep deer.
You should have at least half an acre for one deer.
But if you are raising deer for meat, you are more than likely going to want to have more than one deer (at least one male and one female).
Of course, this half an acre per deer is if the deer are tame.
If you want your deer to run wild, then you are going to need quite a bit more space.
When they aren’t tame, they need a little more space to run around and get out their energy.
So decide if you want your deer tame or wild and then you can plan appropriately for the space you will need.
Make sure you provide adequate food
Really, the best thing you can do for feeding your deer is making sure there is enough pasture for them to graze on.
In that case, they can eat whatever they want to their heart’s content.
It’s even better if you have them on a rotational system where they go from one part of the field until the next.
This gives each area time to recover in between each grazing section.
If you are going to feed them alfalfa hay, then they will need somewhere around 2 to 3 lbs each day to keep them fed.
During the wintertime, make sure to supplement the hay with extra grains, so they can get the extra calories for warmth.
Figure out how to feed the deer from outside their enclosure
Now that you have your deer all settled into your farm and you’ve decided how many deer you want to have, it is a good time to figure out how you are going to feed your deer.
You see, the male deers can get pretty aggressive, especially during mating season.
This doesn’t mean that they are going to hurt you because they want to mate with you.
No, this means that they are territorial and that they are going to be angry with you for being in their space.
The deer also split off into herds, one herd for the female and the young deer and another herd for the male deers.
So when you go into their area, the male deer might think that you are trying to become the leader of the herd.
It makes it especially important that you have a way to feed your deer by getting into their pen area.
Maybe there is one particular area in which you can set up a trough for the deer and all you have to do is throw some hay over the fence into the trough so they can eat.
That is certainly one option, and maybe your best option.
You’ll also want to make sure to not skimp on the fence (see a later on section about fencing).
Or maybe there is a small area you can fence off while you are providing the food and then you can unfence it once you have brought in all the hay you would need.
These are a few options for you.
But the most important part is that you are protected while you are giving them food.
Otherwise, you leave yourself open to getting hurt while feeding your deer.
Find a veterinarian that can handle your deer
Veterinarians aren’t typically trained in taking care of large animals like deer.
And since domesticating and raising deer for meat is a relatively new thing, you might find it difficult to find a veterinarian who can help you.
But it is worth your time to find a veterinarian that can help, even if you are spending a few hours looking for one.
Since you are raising these deer for meat or to sell them off, it is definitely worth it to find someone.
Also, if you keep yourself aware of and reading literature about taking care of deer, you might be able to help out a veterinarian in taking care of the deer.
Since you are doing what you can to know what deer need and what might be signs and signals for illnesses (see next section).
Working together, you and your veterinarian might be able to have all the information you need to take care of your deer.
Be aware of and know the signs of diseases in deer
One of the biggest diseases know to be fatal to deer is CWD (chronic wasting disease).
The disease is known to be highly transmissible from one deer to another.
Some common signs of CWD are the following:
drastic weight loss (wasting)
lack of coordination
excessive thirst or urination
lack of fear of peoplehttps://www.cdc.gov/prions/cwd/cwd-animals.html
You may not see CWD in your deer until they have already been affected for over a year or two.
And CWD is always fatal to deer.
If you start to notice your deer showing signs like above, the best thing you can do is separate that deer from the herd, in the hopes that the rest of your deer are not affected as well.
Luckily, CWD doesn’t affect livestock, so if you have cows around the deer, they will not be affected.
HD (hemorrhagic disease) is another disease that can affect deers.
This is a disease passed on by bites from midges who congregate around water sources during times of drought.
Deer can catch this disease by being biting around these water sources.
Unlike CWD, a deer can recover from this disease and also build up immunities to it.
According to Purdue.edu:
Deer with EHD often appear weak, lethargic, and disoriented. Other signs of EHD in deer are ulcers in the mouth or on the tongue, swollen face, neck, or eyelids, and a bluish color to the tongue. Deer with EHD often search for water to combat the fever caused by the disease. EHD can be confirmed by testing blood and tissue (i.e., spleen) samples, but samples must be collected shortly after death.https://www.purdue.edu/fnr/extension/be-on-the-watch-for-ehd-in-deer/
There are other diseases that can affect your deer and you can read more about them here.
Purchase adequate fencing to keep your deer contained
Deer can be little nuisances when it comes to fencing and keeping them in.
This is mostly because they are such good jumpers.
Probably anyone that has driven a car in the dark can tell you how good deer are at jumping over and sneaking through fences.
Luckily, deer aren’t like pigs and they can’t dig under the fence to get out, so that’s one thing.
So you’ll need to make sure to yourself a fence that is high enough.
6 feet might be too short, but 8 feet is going to be just right
Deer can jump 8 feet in the air, but can’t jump that over a long distance.
So 8 feet might be just high enough to keep your deer in, but you could also install the fence on a slight slant outwards, therefore making it so the deer has to jump high, but also far.
Most people like the idea of going out once or twice a year and shooting a deer out in the wild.
But I like the idea of being able to raise deer on my farm and being able to slaughter them when I need milk or sell them off if I need the money.
You just need to make sure to take care of them by having plenty of space for them, finding a veterinarian that can help take care of them, being aware of the diseases and signs of those diseases in deer, providing adequate food and water for the deer, and making sure to get a fence high enough to keep the deer in.
If you do this, you should be pretty happy with raising deer on your farm.