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Ivan Hochstetler began the deer business in The focus of the farm is to promote rare, productive and quality genetics in does and bucks alike. Double H has deer — 60 bucks and 57 does. But the deer business can be lucrative.
The Hochstetlers also sell their deer to other deer farms and provide semen from their herd of bucks. All hunts are fully guided; about 80 hunters a year visit the ranch. Deer stands and deer huts are placed throughout the acres with visible paths for walking and vehicle usage. The farm is inspected when applying for the permit to see if their fences are high enough and everything is up to code.
Each year a state-approved vet inspects the farm. The purchase of a deer must be reported to the state within seven days, and each deer has an identifying tag and number. That allows the state to track a deer from birth to death, or should it get out of its area. If any deer dies, a vet must examine the head to check for diseases; those findings are reported to the state. Diseases are closely monitored. Miller said the main health issue for deer on his farm is pneumonia. He tries to give deer medications to help prevent it and has lost one deer to the disease.
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Another concern for deer farms is epizootic hemorrhagic disease, caused by a virus that is sometimes fatal. According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, CWD is a fatal and degenerative brain disease caused by abnormal brain proteins. The disease not only affects white-tailed deer but also moose, elk and mule deer. There is no vaccination for it.
Miller and his son, Caleb, spend anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours on a given day feeding and caring for their deer. The preserves have confined areas for hunts. He said being a deer farmer is more monitored and a much more rigid process than being a dairy farmer. As long as hunting remains a legal pastime there will be a demand for trophy animals. Every state has different rules so you will have to check with your local DNR or wildlife department. Here in Oklahoma our state is very friendly to alternate agriculture endeavors like deer farming.
Once you have your pen s built, and before buying any deer, your local game warden will come out to inspect and sign off on the license. But like I said, this varies so check with your state as to its requirements. I have been to farms that have invested over a million dollars in their operation and to others that have started with a few thousand.
The startup cost depends on the goals of your operation. If you plan to be a full-time deer farmer in years, the costs would be greater than for a hobbyist or a part-timer. As in most businesses or farming operations, there is a big learning curve in raising whitetail deer. Whitetail deer are creatures of habit and like routine. Bringing in mature deer from several farms onto a new start up operation is like taking your kids out of their school and transferring them to a new school during the middle of the year. I believe that it is most effective to start with a group of bottle-started fawns and to finish out the bottle-feeding at your farm.
Here on our farm, every doe fawn born is pulled to be bottle-fed within days following birth. Not only are bottle-fed deer easier to handle, medicate and artificially breed, they are to us more enjoyable and are a calming effect on the entire herd. On bottle-feeding buck fawns, we will usually pull those who are of superior genetics, or in case of twin bucks, may pull one to put less strain on the doe.
Bottle-fed bucks can be dangerous in the rut. This should be understood and care taken to address this issue. It is also unwise to sell bottle-fed bucks to the hunting market. On the other hand it makes for quite an impression to potential clients to be able to go up to a buck during the velvet stages and have him eating out of their hands.
Most of my deer are sold to other breeders or those getting started in the business.
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There is also a growing market of hunting preserves and ranches that are in desperate need of quality harvest animals. Since it takes much more time to grow out a big buck than to harvest it, this demand will not soon, if ever, be completely met. As in any business, marketing is the key to success.
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If no one knows what you are raising or selling, how can they contact you when interested? I find the Internet via my website www. Overall though, the Internet is a must in my opinion. Once you get known throughout the industry as having quality animals, you may find it hard to keep an inventory as has happened to me. I have not found any that are inclusive in all aspects of this industry. Harry Jacobson and found both to be of good help.