Deer antler velvet is one of the most widely sought after food supplements around the world. This is mainly because of its numerous health benefits that can positively impact a person's life, regardless of his purpose in using it. Body builders utilize the supplement as a way to increase muscle recovery, growth and development, parents (especially in China and Korea) use it as a growth supplement and others use it to relieve the symptoms arthritis and even psoriasis. That said however, do you know where exactly the supplement comes from? Well, here are some facts that you should definitely know about:
Although several countries like Russia, China and the United States manufacture and consume deer antler velvet, most of the world's supply comes from New Zealand which supplies over 450 million tons of the material every year. This is so thanks to the millions of deer in deer farms, which supply the country with both the velvet and venison, also known as deer meat.
image source: flickr
In New Zealand, most of the deer in the farms are either red deer or wapiti, also known as elk. The antler velvet are mainly taken from the males – the females are for breeding – and are cut off for:
1. Harvesting the antler velvet. The antlers grow each year and has several stages, namely the brow, bez and trez to a royal top. This takes about 90 days to grow and completely harden (of course, the antler is harvested before it calcifies).
2. These are removed not only to harvest the velvet, but also as a farm management practice. Why? Well, during mating season, the stags (male deer) may become aggressive and harm other males. The antlers are removed to lessen the dangers.
As mentioned earlier, deer antler velvet is the pre-calcified antlers. Basically, it is a soft, cartilaginous tissue filled with nerves and blood vessels that grow at least two centimeters per day. After about two months, the velvet starts to calcify and harden from the base, and is harvested between 45 to 60 days. If you have seen a wild deer with bloody antlers with skin like material dangling from it, that's the velvet being shed.
There are actually some people who are not all too keen in using deer antler velvet, mainly because some of them decry the removal process, citing it as “cruel”. Well, let's clear this uncertainty up: the removal process is enforced by law and done by the stag owner that has the license to do so under the supervision of a veterinarian who administers a sedative. In New Zealand, it is actually a criminal offense if the removal does not comply with the earlier mentioned statements. After the harvesting, the velvet is then frozen and dried by controlling temperature and humidity for an extended period.
Overall, the process of growing and removal of deer antler velvet may be tedious, but availing it will certainly change your life for the better. New Zealand researchers have discovered that it boosts wound healing, and relieves the symptoms caused by osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. On a parting note: the velvet removal does not harm the deer in any way.