Drive to boost farmed venison production proves success

Deer park

A drive to produce more farmed venison in Scotland has moved forward with new deer farming enterprises set to come on stream later this year.

The Deer Farm and Park Demonstration Project, which kicked off last year, aims to encourage more farmers into deer farming.

It hopes to produce an extra 1,000 tonnes of farmed venison a year by 2020 – a target which would require an additional 22,000 farmed deer on the ground in the next five years.

According to John Fletcher, of the Venison Advisory Service, which has been involved in the scheme, the first year has been successful with 5,000 new hinds set to come on stream this year.

Speaking at the Farming Scotland conference in Carnoustie this week, Mr Fletcher said beef and sheep farmers should consider diversifying into deer farming as demand for venison is set to increase by around 10% year on year.

At present only 2% of the 3,500 tonnes of Scottish venison produced each year comes from farms – the majority is sourced from the wild.

Mr Fletcher said deer farms would need to be created to meet growing demand as it was not possible to increase the kill from the wild deer population.

He added that a new abattoir capable of killing deer, at Cupar in Fife, would be up and running next month.