2008-10-30 / Local & State

Deer Sale Distributes Quality Whitetail Genes

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's annual deer sale, which began Aug. 11 and runs through Oct. 31 at the university's Deer Research Center, allows the College of Agricultural Sciences to share top-quality whitetail genetics with Pennsylvania deer farmers, according to the center's manager.

Although the Department of Dairy and Animal Science has been holding deer sales since the late 1980s, the public is mostly unaware of the transactions, notes Don Wagner. "We send out sale notifications by mail only to licensed propagators in the state who are permitted to raise deer," he says

Student involvement with the deer sale is highly encouraged.

"Students participate in some aspects of the sale, such as preparing advertisements, giving tours to potential buyers and preparing animals for transport," Wagner says. "For students interested in commercial deer farming, the annual sale is a good opportunity to meet individuals and make contacts within the industry."

Between 15 and 30 white-tailed deer will be sold this year, according to Wagner. "We normally gross between $15,000 and $30,000 annually," he says. "We sell most of our deer to individuals in Pennsylvania who have a Cervidae Livestock Operation License from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture." Buyers include breeders and hunting preserve operators.

The sale is vital to maintaining a manageable research herd size.

"Mature does normally produce twin fawns each year, and when deer are maintained with high-quality diets and herd health is good, triplets are fairly common," adds Wagner. "The life expectancy for a deer in captivity can be 10-15 years, so the herd would quickly outgrow our facility without this sale."

The sale also gives deer farmers, particularly those new to the industry, the opportunity to interact with Penn State and learn how the university manages, cares for and handles its animals. "If a deer farmer visits our facility and learns something that will help them better manage their herd, I believe that's an important benefit of our sale, even if they do not purchase any of our animals," Wagner says.

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