The deer family is known for its antlers, and deer use their large, branching horns to dominate other deer and defend their area, as well as to show their masculinity and strength. Deer’s antlers are usually harmless, but sometimes they can be deadly.
Deer farms cut deer antlers for record keeping and protection against injury. Deer antlers used as velvet is sometimes used for medicinal purposes, but cutting them for this can harm the deer. So, if you go back to the other way of cutting hard antlers, does this cutting process hurt the deer?
Deer antlers are comprised of honeycombed bone tissue. When the rut ends, bucks’ testosterone drops, causing them to shed their large bones to prepare for winter when food is scarce. This also means you’ll see more females than males!
Farmers often use “horn management” during mating season or periods when it seems like all deer species have gathered in one place, such as December. Since these debilitated animals no longer fight, buck-fighting injuries decrease.
In our guide, you can learn more about growing antlers and cutting antlers on these deer. By the end, you’ll better understand the cutting antlers process and that there is no long-lasting damage when you have antlers removed correctly. (Read Do Porcupines Float In Water)
Will a Deer Die if You Cut Off its Antlers
Deer antlers develop every year, starting in early spring and continuing through the summer. When fully grown and mature, they solidify into bone-like structures in the late summer or early fall and naturally fall or shed each year in the late winter.
Then the cycle starts over. The deer won’t die if the antlers are cut at any time while growing. Still, it must be done using a local anesthetic to be compassionate because they are extremely enervated and sensitive to contact.
Does cutting antlers hurt deer?
Once they have been cut, the cut stump should be covered in bone wax or another sort of hemostatic material to stop the light blood loss. If there are any other males nearby with antlers, the animal suffers the most from a social status loss at this moment and rushes away after being freed.
Antler Growth and Life Cycle
Horns and antlers are often spoken about as if they are the same. An antler, while the same in appearance, differs from horns. Antlers fall off every year, but horns remain and continue to grow.
However, you’ll see they don’t lose any of their horns in other animals, such as wild sheep and other horn-growing animals. Elk, caribou, moose, white-tailed deer, and others are among the few where male deer grow these antlers.
Following a prolonged reduction in testosterone that terminates their life cycle, all deer species shed their antlers in the winter. The cycle begins again many months later, from spring to late summer. In April, the antlers grow as nips; by August, they are fully developed.
Antlers appear fuzzy as they develop in the summertime behind a “velvet” layer where blood vessels deliver rich nutrients to the bones. Antlers are fragile, and you could ask, does it hurt a deer when an antler breaks? You can often see an antler on a deer cut in half where it has broken, and there are no ill effects once the slight bleeding stops.
In addition, velvet on antlers is shed once they stop growing and stiffen in the late summer. When the velvet’s blood supply runs out, it dries up and disintegrates, where the nerve endings die.
Bucks speed up the process by rubbing their antlers against trees or bushes. Early September is when new antlers are finished, long before the rut, which is the breeding season for the deer family.
The most dominant bucks and bulls secure and protect their breeding rights during these sparring matches, which form a pecking order. Male deer most likely grow antlers primarily because of these competitions. (Read Can Chickens Have Bird Seed)
How To Cut Deer Antlers?
We must comprehend the animal we are rearing before we cut deer antlers. Before, during, and briefly after the rut, the bucks transform and are killing machines that undertake unpredictable roaming and fighting.
Antlers are Cut at these times to prevent male competition and protect the herd. Deer farms may undertake breeding programs to grow enormous antlers, some of which are too large for deer to carry. Also, you can find antlers grown for medicinal uses and to make deer scent.
When you see how many males die in the wild from fighting, it can be alarming, yet mother nature did this to protect the strength of the deer’s genetic pool.
Why Cutting Deer’s Antlers Is Necessary
It isn’t possible to breed the fight out of deer, and the only way to get rid of these deadly weapons is to cut the antlers. It is a smart management decision, ad most deer farmers now realize it.
Cutting lets, you match the antlers to the buck without searching the pastures and using DNA. Keeping antler growth records for management and marketing purposes is much simpler.
Who, Besides Deer Farmers, Should Cut Antlers?
Any farmer growing whitetail bucks for supplying hunting preserves and breeding stock markets should have their antlers removed. They shouldn’t undertake it if they don’t have a proper farm layout, good handling facilities, and experience.
If any of the above components are missing, cutting antlers shouldn’t be attempted. These creatures need less stress. Safety, efficiency, and time are required to do this.
Veterinarians or trained deer farmers should cut antlers.
Deer Antler Cutting Procedure Overview
- Sedate the Deer
- IV Given to Deer
- Saw, Cutting Cable
- Plug Large Veins
- A tourniquet to slow Blood Flow
- Cauterize antler cut to stop bleeding
- Iodine Wound
- Injection of Antibiotic
- Harvest Velvet
When Should Antlers be Cut?
When 60% to 70% of the bucks have scraped their antlers clean, you can start cutting the antlers off the males. Year-to-year and pen-to-pen dates vary slightly, although, over the years, August 20th to September 10th has been the best time.
When temperatures tend to be hot, it’s best to start early and work during suitable daylight hours, which haven’t decreased enough for males to begin their testosterone factory when in a bachelor camaraderie mood.
This makes them less hostile. Using cutting cables for hard, dry clean antler makes the job easier. If you come across a buck with an antler covered in velvet, you’ll need to hold it above the burr using your bare hands.
If you feel warmth, you need to move the buck to another area away from ready bucks. It means there is still blood flow, and it may take a couple of weeks before they are ready.
Which Bucks Antlers to Cut?
Yearlings and older bucks raised in groups without marketing antlers should be cut. Breeder bucks in single-sire breeding situations that you know are not hostile toward does and bucks in individual pens that are not nearby are exceptions.
Cutting above the burr is ideal. If careful, many animals you may cut below the burr. For competitions, trophies, or market value, antlers should be below the burr. (Read Can Chickens Eat Whole Corn)
How to Solve Buck Fighting?
There are a few ways you can solve buck fights:
- Keeping all your bucks in solid-wall pens.
- Castrating your bucks’ testosterone-producing equipment.
- Hunting them in a hunting preserve.
- Only raising does through artificial insemination
Whitetails are the most aggressive fighters of all the deer species. So, it is necessary to cut the antlers for serious deer farmers.