Deer produce a lean meat and valuable antler velvet. They perform well in a range of Australian temperate environments. The AgriFutures Deer Program aims to direct research, development and extension (RD&E) that contributes to the profitability, sustainability and productivity of this industry.

The AgriFutures Deer Program works closely with deer farmers to partner in new RD&E investment including investigation of effective feeding, nutrition, genetics and market development for competitiveness along the farmed venison and velvet supply chains.

Key components of the AgriFutures Deer Program include improved handling and restraint facilities, improved genetics, research to identify impediments to deer processing, research on opportunities for multi-species processing, and extension and training for producers on working with processors to facilitate deer handling and slaughter.

Over three decades, AgriFutures Deer Program has generated more than 50 reports on deer production, processing, marketing and the industry.

Deer were introduced to Australia during the 19th century and six species now 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 and blood used in traditional Eastern medicine. Approximately 85 per cent of venison and more than 95 per cent of velvet antler is exported.


AgriFutures Deer Program is responsible for the expenditure of the R&D component of the  statutory deer slaughter levy. The levy was first introduced in July 1992 and deer that are slaughtered at an abattoir for human consumption attract the deer slaughter levy.

View the AgriFutures Deer Program income and expenditure for 2020-21 statement. 

AgriFutures Australia receives the research and development (R&D) levy allocation to invest in line with the industry objectives of the Program’s Strategic RD&E Plan. The Levy is collected and distributed via the Department of Agriculture. For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment website.

AgriFutures Australia also receives Commonwealth matching funding based on 0.5% of the aggregate GVP of all AgriFutures Australia’s levied industries (Arena 3) or half of AgriFutures Australia’s eligible expenditure – whichever is the lesser. This includes expenditure in non-levied industries Arenas 1, 2 and 4 irrespective of their funding source.

AgriFutures Australia’s Board allocates the Commonwealth matching funding to each levied industry program. The respective programs will receive 50c per dollar of eligible expenditure (subject to availability of Commonwealth matching funding).

The total program budget comprises of the R&D levy allocation, Commonwealth matching funding (allocated by the AgriFutures Australia Board) and third party contributions (where appropriate).


Ellen Buckle

Senior Manager, Tea Tree Oil, Kangaroo, Deer, Buffalo and Goat Fibre

Related Publications


Advances and Challenges in Deer Biology


Deer Industry Gross Margins


Deer Industry Database


Research in Progress - Deer 2007-2008

Latest News and Events


Collaboration opens doors to “big picture” research

Adding value to the thousands of levy payers across our industries is a key driver for research, development and extension (RD&E) at AgriFutures Australia. Now more than ever, collaboration will drive the way we deliver research outcomes for farmers and producers, who often face similar issues across related industries and in their own-mixed farming enterprises. By John Smith, AgriFutures Australia, General Manager Research


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