Venison has become a popular alternative to beef and lamb over recent years, and it’s appearing frequently on UK restaurant menus. The UK still imports venison meat from New Zealand and Europe. But, more recently, Scotland has become one of the largest producers of this fine meat. Stagison Venison owners Jane and Robert Prentice have utilised their land on Downfield Farm to operate deer farming in Scotland. And it’s the only field to fork venison farm in the country.
Five Years of Deer Farming in Scotland
Five years ago, Jane and Robert Prentice first made the move into deer farming, following a change in cattle farming policy. The couple found they had a spare shed, extra grazing and winter feed. So, after spotting a gap market, they decided that they would not only operate deer farming in the UK, but they would also open Scotland’s first venison abattoir. This would mean that deer would no longer need to travel to Yorkshire to be slaughtered, which would save them time and money.
Making the Changes on the Farm
After operating as a mixed farming business for years, they needed to make some changes to accommodate the deer. First, they needed to modify the empty shed and fields. They introduced higher fences and barriers, new gates and reduced opening on the feed barrier. Deer are generally naturally health animals, and the only medicine they usually require is annual worming treatment.
Feeding the deer is also simple. In the summer, they graze on grass. And in winter, they feed inside on high protein grass silage, which is made in the summer and preserved. Their food can be supplemented with grains, oats, and a balance of minerals, which makes them easier to handle. In the warmer months the deer love to spend time outside. And when it’s cold, the deer are brought inside where they have straw to eat, sleep on and play in.
Making Changes to Scottish Farming
As the farming industry continues to change due to environmental and economic issues, many farmers are looking for sustainable alternatives to cattle and arable production. One of the ways in which farms can diversify is by entering the deer farming sector. With low labour input, deer farming is a great way to boost income. And, by creating more deer breeding centres in Scotland, UK consumers will not need to import venison from abroad. Also, it provides an opening for many European importers.
Venison meat is low in fat and high in nutrition, and as demand increases, so do the opportunities for deer faming in Scotland. So, to find out more about this family-run farm and deer farming in Scotland, get in touch with Stagison today.