Velvet antler removal is defined as a "controlled surgical procedure" under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. This means the procedure can only be performed by, or under the direct supervision of, a veterinarian.
The National Velveting Standards Body (NVSB), has developed a framework outlining the requirements for animal welfare and drug control regulations, to be met by veterinarians and approved velvet removal operators, who may complete velvet removal.
Illegal or incorrect velvet removal has resulted in several animal welfare cases reported at deer slaughtering premises over recent years.
These cases have been due to a number of issues including;
Stags transported within 7 days of velvet antler removal.
Stags having antler longer than the current recommendation of 60mm.
Significant damage to velvet antler and/or prolonged suffering of stags.
Antler length measurement
Antler is measured from the top of the midline of the skull surface between the antler pedicles to the tip or any extremity of the antler, including any tynes that are present. The recommended maximum length is 110m. Processors and transport operators are aware and operate within these recommendations.
Suppliers and supervising veterinarians should be aware that all stags sent to slaughter during the velveting season will be inspected to see if they have had velvet antlers removed.
All supplier names will be checked against the DINZ list of approved velveters. If the supplier is not found on the list the details will be passed to MAF Enforcement Group for further investigation.
The Enforcement Group intends to check all suppliers whose details are provided to discover who removed the velvet antler. If the person found responsible is not a veterinarian or person entitled to remove velvet under the NVSB velvet removal programme, legal action will be considered.