Scotland’s farmers encouraged to keep deer

Consumer demand for venison in Scotland has soared, but there isn’t enough of it to meet demand, according to industry experts.

The Scottish Venison Working Group (SVWG) and British Deer Farmers Association are now calling on Scotland’s farmers to diversity and consider deer. The SVWG’s Dick Playfair says that, in the past, venison was considered a seasonal product, but demand now extends across the year. ‘There are several possible ways to fill the vacuum-substitution of roe for red, deer farms expanding and increasing production, wider diversification into deer, and the development of deer parks or ranches,’ he suggests.

Producer Christian Nissen of Highland Game says that, to meet his current contracts, he needs a further 15,000 carcases. ‘I’ll have to import them from New Zealand, because the raw product is simply not available in Scotland,’ he says. ‘We are really starting to see the UK venison market take off, but we are going to create a vacuum in supply that can only be met by more imports. What would help meet this is more Scottish deer farms producing more Scottish venison.’