Deer produce a lean meat and valuable antler velvet, and perform well in a range of Australian temperate environments.

The AgriFutures Deer Program aims to direct RD&E that contributes to the profitability, sustainability and productivity of this industry. Over three decades, our Deer Program has generated more than 50 reports on deer production, processing, marketing and the industry.

About the industry 

Deer were introduced during the 19th century. Six species form the basis of the Australian deer industry. Deer farms in Australia are often integrated as agritourism enterprises.

In addition to venison (meat), other deer products include velvet antler, skins and co-products such as tails, blood etc used in traditional Eastern medicine. Approximately 85% of venison and more than 95% of velvet antler is exported.

Following a period of drought, in 2010-11 deer numbers on Australian farms dropped to 45,000 on 1,436 farms and the gross value of the industry was around $1.7 million.


The statutory levy on deer velvet has ceased. There is a small residual fund available for a strategic project.

The Levy is collected and distributed via the Department of Agriculture. For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment website.

View the AgriFutures Deer Program income and expenditure for 2018-19 statement.

RD&E Plan

The Deer Program RD&E objectives for 2013-2018 are covered by the objectives of the Animal Industries RD&E Plan:

  • Provide new and developing animal industries with regular and up-to-date market assessments
  • Enhance industry success through targeted industry-specific RD&E strategies
  • Facilitate new industry growth through multi-disciplinary approaches that potentially advantage several industries
  • Improve capacity across new and developing animal industries.

Areas of focus for deer include:

  • Improved handling and restraint facilities
  • Improved genetics
  • Research to identify impediments to deer processing
  • Research on opportunities for multi-species processing
  • Extension / training for producers on working with processors to facilitate deer handling and slaughter.


Dr Mila Bristow
Senior Manager, Research
0417 425 351

Related Publications


Advances and Challenges in Deer Biology


Deer Industry Gross Margins


Deer Industry Database


Research in Progress - Deer 2007-2008