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Volume 974: debated on Monday 19 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in the light of the intensive farming of deer which is now being undertaken in Scotland, he will take steps to prevent antlers being sawn off the wild animal in order to obtain the velvet for sale.

The farming of deer is attracting increasing interest in both Scotland and England, but the word "intensive" is misleading in this context. Deer on the farm will tend to have a higher stocking rate than on the hill, but there is no evidence that "factory farming" of deer is being undertaken in Scotland.The question of antler velvet raises particular issues. By-products from deer killed for venison are already exported, but I have no evidence of antler velvet being taken from live deer in Scotland. The practice is common in other countries, and in anticipation of continuing interest in deer farming in Britain my right hon. Friends and I have asked that information about the physiological and other possible effects of harvesting deer velvet be collected as quickly as possible with a view to the question being referred to the Farm Animal Welfare Council for its advice.