From: Deer Farmers' Library (www.deer-library.com)|
[By Russell Sawchuk from notes taken at presentations by Dr. Al Schaefer and Dr. Jim Webster (New Zealand) at the Alberta Elk Association 2002 Convention.]
The New Zealand deer industry has been looking for non-drug methods of velvet antler removal for some time. The driving forces are concerns for animal welfare and possible drug contamination of velvet antler destined for human consumption.
The ideal removal procedures are a) humane, b) sans side effects, c) quick and d) easy, convenient and safe.
Compression or blocking of the nerve has been known since 1933. The procedure involves high pressure to block the nerves to the antlers. It is rapid and reversible. Compression takes about 4 minutes per antler.
Researchers in New Zealand and Alberta carried out similar studies comparing compression to more standard procedures such as Lidocaine and electronic analgesia (EA).
The Alberta researchers found that compression and Lidocaine were about equally effective. EA has great variability and thus was a more risky procedure.
The New Zealand study found no differences between the efficacy of Lidocaine and compression. Over 90% of the animals were non-aversive during the treatments. There were also no differences in long term stress. The compression method resulted in 30 to 60 gram lighter antlers due to slower growth (not a significant difference).
In summary, the research found that the high compression technique for velvet antler removal:
As velvet removal season approaches this year, elk producers may want to consider using this procedure. Consult with your local elk association or your vet for more information.
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