Deer Farming in Wisconsin is a growing industry. The first deer farm license was issued in 1940. At the end of 2003, Wisconsin had 487 Whitetail Deer Farms.
Raising Whitetail deer is a passion to most of us and to some of us it’s a job. This is an industry to consider. Whether you raise these wonderful animals for the pure pleasure of having them around to enjoy as a hobby or raising them for the challenge of producing that first 200” buck on your farm, it’s an adventure. Never think that you know all you need to know. You will learn something new about these magnificent animals on a daily basis. They are full of surprises!
Not just for men!!! You would be surprised how many women take an active role in deer farming. They are involved in every aspect and take it seriously. You think the men can talk up a storm about deer, just get one of these gals going and youre in for a treat! And lets not forget the kids!!!! They come in real handy when its time to feed the fawns!!! Deer farming can be a bonding experience for the whole family.
If you asked deer farmers what their favorite time of the year would be, you would get mixed answers. For some of them, it would be the anticipation of the birth of the fawns. No one can resist a newborn fawn with it’s spotted coat and big eyes. Another favorite time of the year would no doubt be watching the bucks antlers grow, trying to figure out which one will be the “monster” of the year!
Your animals are what you make them ………
Some farmers prefer to bottle feed their fawns rather than leave them with their mothers. Why??? You need to think of a deer as a high strung race horse at some point. They are always on alert and ready to run at the drop of a hat. A tame deer may jump a little and run a few yards, but 9 times out of 10 will turn around to try to figure out what just went on. Tame deer are easier to work with and more enjoyable. Most farmers have names for their deer. They can look at them and tell you in a heartbeat who they are. Whitetail deer each have their own personalities. You will especially notice this in the tame deer. Some farmers prefer not to bottle feed. This may be a time issue or just a preference that they have. It’s your choice. Deer that are not bottle fed are usually not as easy to control. Some farmers will bottle feed buck fawns, but most will not. Once a buck is bottle fed, it is said that the fear of humans, that is built into any wild animal, is gone. Once rut arrives, special precautions need to be taken with these animals.
What type of market is there in this industry?
Breeders Hunting Ranches Selling deer to others farms to enhance their genetics Semen Meat & Food Antlers Urine As you can see there are various ways to market your animals. It’s up to you!
Who regulates deer farmers?
Currently, all Whitetail farms are regulated by the Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) regulates the fencing.
What about CWD?
Most deer farms are on a monitoring program through DATCP. When an animal that is 16 months or older dies, it is tested for CWD. There have been 8600 CWD samples taken from farm raised cervids since 1997 in the State of Wisconsin. Of these 8600 samples, 19 have tested positive as of October 15, 2004. Some of the positives have been linked back to the wild herd. Our industry continues to rack up numbers proving that we are not the problem. 550 herds are enrolled in the monitoring program. (info from DNR Website) To date, it has not been determined how this disease is passed from animal to animal, if this is in fact how it is transmitted. It has also not been proven where CWD came from and very well may never be. Remember, facts are what you need to listen for, not hear say and speculation.
What do I feed them?
Some farms have their own “recipes” and some feed corn. Straight corn is not recommended however, as it may cause health problems. Deer need fiber, which they get from browsing, so they need hay if browse is unavailable. There are numerous feed distributors out there that sell feed that is pre-mixed and bagged. It’s all up to you and it’s part of the trial and error process. What ever works for you!!! Oh, deer love treats!!! On a side note, deer are unlike cattle and horses that eat constantly. A Whitetail deer’s metabolism changes as winter comes and they slow their eating patterns down quite a bit for the winter. This is nice break for the pocketbook if you have a big herd!
How much land do I need to start and how high must the fence be?
Currently, a half an acre is the minimum allowed and the fence needs to be 8 ft high. If starting out small and your deer are tame, this will work just fine. If you choose not to have tamer deer, you should be thinking about a larger pen. Deer that are not tame need their “space”. They don’t like to be crowded.
How much does the fence cost?
This is where you need to do your homework! Again, it’s all up to you!!!!! As far as fence, there are distributors out there who will sell at a discounted price if you purchase a certain number of rolls. The more rolls you buy, the less you pay. The total cost to install the fence will run around $3.50(e) per foot.. (Materials run about $2.00(e) per foot and the labor is about $1.50(e) per foot.) This is only an estimate and will vary between fence companies, so its only meant to be a rough estimate. Wood posts or T- Posts?? Ask around at your farm supply store where to find these or talk to other farmers. Sometimes, you may run across a farmer who is selling used fence and this should be at a much reduced price. Now the best part of all, the DEER!
What will my deer cost?
The sky’s the limit!!! Your herd will be what you make it! Price will be determined on what you want your herd to be. Maybe you just can’t wait to grow your own first 200 class buck and want to start out with top end genetics to try to accomplish this. This is fine, but be prepared, top end deer demand top price. Maybe you want to do it the old fashioned way and “grow” your own. This option is more affordable to most, but again, it’s all about what you want to do. Not all farmers can afford the top end deer and buy what they can afford. You will then need to “build” your herd’s genetics up to where you want to be (another whole subject!). Perhaps you just want a couple of deer on your property to enjoy!!! (Definitely nothing wrong with this) They can be very relaxing to be around.
How do I find the deer I want to buy?
By looking on the WOW Website under members. This area of the Website offers a listing of deer farmers who are members of WOW and have deer for sale. Many of them have email addresses and most have a phone numbers.
I have more questions, how can I get them answered?
The WOW Website is here to help with any questions that you may have about getting started. Questions are always welcome.
This is an Industry worth turning your attention towards. We are growing and invite you to grow with us. The people that you will meet in this industry are second to none. We are all here to help each other grow and learn. If you’ve come this far, you owe it to yourself to take the next step!!!!