Why must we remove deer antlers?

deer antler in front of shed

First and foremost, we must remove the antlers from Deer before the ‘Roar’ or mating season to prevent them harming each other. In New Zealand this is March through to May.

It’s called the ROAR for a reason and our stags can be heard for miles around bellowing out their unique sound. Cold frosty weather fires them up all the more.

During this time the stags have hormones raging around their body causing havoc. They eat very little and spend a lot of time chasing each other around to prove their superiority. At times they even hurt each other by ramming into the body of another animal with their head. We mitigate this by allowing them as much space as possible to ‘get away’ from the bullies. Currently our stags have the run of four big paddocks with the gates all left open. We still see the odd one limping and remove them from the mob to allow them some peace and quiet.

This photo taken by family friend Lois Butler shows some antlers at fully grown stage, (ie not removed at velvet time) They are lethal weapons, and you can imagine that if all the stags had these on their head during mating, the war would be well and truly on and the injury and casualty rate would be unacceptably high!

deer antler in the grass
the base of antler remains on the deer and drops of ready for new growth in the spring.

So this is the reason we must remove antlers. We make the sensible choice to remove them at velvet stage, rather than fully grown stage as its much safer for us and the animal. Oh yes… also because it’s a valuable commodity at that time, with lots of benefits as a health tonic. Win win!

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