Removal of velvet antler from stags
Policy type: Policy
Date ratified: 20 March 2013
The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) accepts that the removal of velvet antler from farmed stags is justifiable for human and animal safety as well as for economic reasons, but it must be performed with all due regard for animal welfare.
The NZVA believes that the welfare of deer during the removal of velvet antler, and the reputation of New Zealand in this regard, is best safeguarded by having a veterinarian present.
The NZVA endorses the Code of Recommendations and Minimum Standards for the Welfare of Deer During the Removal of Antlers, the Animal Welfare (Deer) Code of Welfare 2007, National Velveting Standards Body (NVSB) 'Velvet Removal Programme' and the ACVM Performance and Technical Standards for the removal of deer velvet antlers.
- Velvet antler is sensitive growing tissue. Its removal falls under the NZVA definition of a “significant surgical procedure”. Handling must be competent and analgesia complete.
- New Zealand's international reputation is at stake if animal welfare is not upheld, and not seen to be upheld, in relation to velvet antler removal. The veterinary profession in New Zealand must be able to show that at all times the welfare of the animals concerned is being safeguarded.
- The removal of velvet from deer falls primarily within the framework of two Acts:
a. The Animal Welfare Act 1999; and
b. The Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997.
The Animal Welfare Act makes provision for the protection of animals and imposes a duty of care on those in charge of them. As such, the Animal Welfare Act defines velveting as a controlled surgical procedure, meaning it can only be performed by a veterinarian, an undergraduate veterinary student acting under the direct supervision of a veterinarian or a person who is the owner of the animal or his/her employee and who has been certified in writing by a veterinarian as competent to carry out the procedure. The Code of Recommendations and Minimum Standards for the Welfare of Deer During the Removal of Antlers is the basis by which the welfare of stags is safeguarded during velvet removal performed by approved individuals other than veterinarians.
- Under the ACVM Act, the recognition of codes of practice ceased in October 2010, and in some cases the administration of restricted veterinary medicines by non-veterinarians can be replaced by Veterinary Operating Instructions (VOI). In 2011, the Director General of the Ministry for Primary Industries issued under section 62(5) of the ACVM Act, Performance and Technical Standards for the removal of deer velvet antlers. The standard advises veterinarians to refer to the NVSB programme for this procedure.
- Veterinarians when personally involved with velveting should set and practice the highest standard at all times.
- Veterinarians should have a thorough knowledge of the Code of Recommendations and Minimum Standards for the Welfare of Deer during the Removal of Antlers and the Animal Welfare (Deer) Code of Welfare 2007, and should operate within the compliance standards of the Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) NVSB programme as well as the ACVM Performance and Technical Standards No. 1.
- Expediency and time constraints must not be allowed to jeopardise animal welfare.
- Supervision of recumbency must be diligent to avoid unnecessary stress to, or side effects on the stag.
Code of Recommendations and Minimum Standards for the Welfare of Deer during the Removal of Antlers. Code of Animal Welfare No. 5. ISBN 0-477-08562-8. ISSN 1171-090X. Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Wellington, New Zealand, July 1992
Velvet Removal Programme, Copyright: National Velvet Standards Body. June 1998
Animal Welfare (Deer) Code of Welfare 2007