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Locations / Farming / Deer Breeding

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While deer farming may be new, humans have a long history of game consumption. Archaeological evidence shows humans have been eating game, including venison, for far longer than today's meat mainstays - chicken, beef, lamb and pork.

Middle and later Stone Age Europeans may also have domesticated deer in some form, before turning to the more versatile cattle and sheep, which provided not only meat protein, but also milk, hides and wool, fat for lighting and traction power.

In some regions of the world, of course, deer have provided these functions, most notably around the Arctic Circle, where reindeer herding has a long history. And certainly, in other parts of the world, deer husbandry has long been practised, as in the European deer parks dating from the Middle Ages.

In the east, Chinese farmers have kept deer in enclosures for several centuries, while more recently Korean and Taiwanese farmers have kept deer as a source of supply for velvet antlers and other products. These have featured in oriental medicine for at least 2000 years.

But it's only within the last 30 years that deer have been successfully introduced into modern farming systems, and been subject to domestication and genetic selection. Farmers in Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand saw the opportunities offered by deer for the production of a "new" meat. It's low in fat and therefore appeals to the sensitivities of modern, health-conscious consumers. Other farmers have actively selected for velvet antler growth, to meet the needs of the traditional Korean market.

What is different about the "new" deer farming is not so much the realisation that deer could be domesticated - the historical record is evidence of that - but that deer farming was placed on a modern agri-industry footing, with the scientific, processing and professional marketing support.


Recent trials have shown that farm venison has only about half the fat and cholesterol of most red meats and its intramuscular fat has a better poly- unsaturated ratio. Venison is high in protein and low in fat and calories. This chart shows some recent analysis of various cuts of meat.

Meat Type
(3 oz cooked portions)
Calories
Cholesterol
(mg)
Fat
(mg)
Protein
(mg)
Venison Loin
139
62
5
22
Salmon
140
60
5
22
Chicken Breast
140
72
3
26
Lamb Loin
183
80
8
25
Beef Bottom Round
189
81
8
27
Pork Shoulder
207
82
13
22
Ground Beef
213
84
12
25
Beef Brisket
223
77
13
24
Veal Cutlet
155
112
4
28

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