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Deer: Removal Of Antlers In Velvet

Volume 413: debated on Tuesday 21 October 1980

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asked Her Majesty's Government:In view of the advice of the Farm Animal Welfare Council that the harvesting of velvet from live deer should be prohibited, whether they will indicate in what circumstances such harvesting, in the case of any deer in the United Kingdom, is not totally prohibited by the four statutory orders which came into effect during 1980.

These orders prohibit in all circumstances the removal of antlers while in velvet from live farmed deer in Great Britain. Exceptions are made to permit the removal of antlers while in velvet by a veterinary surgeon on veterinary grounds, when an anaesthetic must be used, or where authorised for scientific purposes. An exception is also made for emergency situations where, to save the deer's life or relieve its pain, anyone may remove antlers while in velvet, if necessary without an anaesthetic.

The orders do not prohibit the removal of antlers in velvet from wild deer in Great Britain, although the effect of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Schedule 3 Amendment) Order 1980 is to complete the prohibition on their removal from wild or other deer except by a registered veterinary surgeon, unless in an emergency or where authorised for scientific purposes. Whether the orders prohibit the harvesting of antlers in velvet from deer kept in ornamental parks will depend primarily on whether the deer in those parks fall within the definition of livestock as defined in the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968, as amended by the Welfare of Livestock (Deer) Order 1980. It would be for a court to decide on the application of the definition in individual cases.

Deer in Northern Ireland are affected by only one of these orders, that which requires the removal of the antlers of a live deer while they are in velvet to be carried out only by a veterinary surgeon on veterinary grounds.