Deer farming in the country is not a new concept. It can actually be dated back to President George Washington, who raised fallow on his estate in Mount Vernon, just outside Washington D.C. Fast forward two centuries and President Teddy Roosevelt saw the need for commercial venison raised on marginal land that was not good for any other type farming. He believed, as can be see by his agricultural model, that this would provide another source of protein and income for Americans. So why is there such controversy today over deer farming? When deer breeders were raising animals that could be found in free range situations there was little to no adversity, but once animals were produced in farmed and breeding situations using age, nutrition, and genetics, that were seldom seen in the wild, hunters started turning to hunting deer on conservation ranches. This has created much of the animosity that’s exists today and has divided the hunting community.

~ Charly Seale, Exotic Wildlife Association Executive Director

Sir: I have the honor to transmit the accompanying manuscript on the subject of Deer Farming in the United States, and to recommend its publication as Farmers’ Bulletin No. 330. As a  result of the growing scarcity of game animals in this country the supply of venison is wholly inadequate to the demand, and the time seems opportune for developing the industry of deer farming, which may be made profitable alike to the State and the individuals engaged therein. The raising of venison for market is as legitimate a business as the growing of beef and mutton, and State laws, when prohibitory, as many of them are, should be so modified as to encourage the industry, Furthermore, deer and elk may be raised to advantage in forests and on rough, brushy ground unfitted for either agriculture or stock raising, thus utilizing for profit much land that is now waste. An added advantage is that the busIness is well adapted to landowners of small means.


The domestication of deer and elk offers an interesting field for experiment, as well as remunerative returns for the investment of capital.

The wapiti and the Virginia deer can be raised successfully and cheaply under many different conditions of food and climate. The production of venison and the rearing of both species for stocking parks may be made profitable industries in the United States.

Instead of hampering breeders by restrictions, as at present, State laws should be so modified as to encourage the raising of deer, elk, and other animals as a source of profit to the individual and to the State.

Safeguards against the destruction and sale of wild deer in place of domesticated deer are not difficult to enforce. For this purpose a system of licensing private parks, and of tagging deer or carcasses sold or shipped, so that they may be easily identified, is recommended.

It is believed that with favorable legislation much otherwise waste land in the United States may be utilized for the production of venison so as to yield profitable returns, and also that this excellent and nutritious meat, instead of being denied to 99 percent of the population of the country, may become common and as cheap in our markets as mutton.


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