Velvet coating in deer antlers is considered a growth hormone and is used in nutritional supplements.
The substance has been consumed for thousands of years in ancient medicines, and Native Americans, Chinese, and Europeans have been using the fuzz to treat a range of ailments or to enhance nutritional levels.
In more recent times, it is found through a range of supplements such as drops, sprays, and capsules.
Regarding supplements or traditional medications, the fuzz of deer antler has been consumed as a superfood protein, and old therapies looked at it as a supplement that reduced physical stress to the body and helped strengthen the tissues and ligaments.
These early beliefs created a foundation for modern use, as performance athletes or professional athletes can now use the supplements to help repair damaged cartilage and tendons that occurred through repeated traumas.
Due to these unique properties and efficacy, the deer velvet antler has become very popular around the world.
And because New Zealand is one country that is known to supply the largest percentage of best quality deer antler velvet, most products that come from New Zealand, in the form of a capsule, spray, or powder, are being patronized and even endorsed by so many individuals.
Deer farming is any controlled population of deer, including elk, antelope, and moose, on a dedicated piece of enclosed land.
While not as well-known as the raising of other livestock such as cattle and sheep, deer farming has experienced a global boom in recent years.
The purpose of raising deer is mostly as a meat source or to draw tourist trade.
However, other reasons include, to control the numbers of wild deer in a given area, or to harvest secondary products from the animals, such as deer antler extracts.
An estimate puts it that the deer’s farming industry is responsible for three billion dollars in revenue only in the United States.
Despite these huge numbers, the US is only the fourth national deer industry, behind China, Russia, and the world leader in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s deer farming is currently considered the most developed in the world of the animal industry.
Deer species are really native to the area, and the Red and Sika red deer species that currently include most commercial extracts of New Zealand deer antler velvet were brought to the country for sports hunting more than 100 years ago.
Why New Zealand?
This country is one of the leading destinations in breeding animals like deer and elk, who take extra care to ensure that animals are not harmed in the harvesting of the fuzz.
These farms are also regulated and cared for by private farmers, and also regulated by agencies to ensure the safety and well-being of all the animals.
Furthermore, the techniques of human-animal culture exemplified by the production of deer antler velvet in New Zealand are typical of a national culture that respects animal life, and as for the end-users, these products come free of the social stigma and sometimes sharp ethical questions that are often attached to animal-derived supplements.
Today, deer farmers have developed safe, modern techniques for harvesting the active ingredient, growth factor IGF-1, found in antlers.
Unfortunately, not all national sources of deer antler extract practice human exploitation procedures. For this reason, New Zealand’s deer antler velvet is often considered a premium product.
The Risks in Deer Antler Harvesting
Many of the concerns regarding the treatment of deer during farming are similar to those affecting other farm animals.
Such concerns include Nutrition, Breeding, Handling, and Hygienic living conditions.
The Deer antlers are not vital to any critical deer health and wellness systems and are comprised of hard bone that grows from sifting cartilage attached to the skulls.
The presence of growth hormone IGF-1 in a venous membrane covering this cartilage is responsible for its rapid growth into the strong bone.
Antlers generally must be removed from a deer while it is still alive, and this practice produces the following effect:
- Infection from unclean harvesting
- Toxic reactions to heavy anesthetics, and
- The inability of the animal to fight or attract mates.
However, in most New Zealand farms, an excellent farming protocol is utilized to minimize infections, and only very mild low-level anesthetics are used.
Also, since the animals live their entire lives in captivity and are closely monitored, their ability to fight is not much of an issue, and the antlers will grow back on their own in a year or so.
A Quick Check of Products Which Use New Zealand Deer Antler Velvet
Normally, Products which are comprised of New Zealand deer antler velvet typically make a point of advertising this fact, as it is considered a mark of quality, and several brands sell via Amazon and big-name sellers such as GNC, which includes AntlerX and Deer Antler Plus, as well as GNC’s proprietary products, omit the country of origin from their labeling.
The only known brand to include a concrete extract from New Zealand is BioAntler, a popular combo product that incorporates New Zealand deer antler extracts responsibly with other weeds (herbs) for muscle, immunity, and support for sexual health.