Research on the Deer Research Unit

Research projects on the Deer Research Unit have input from researchers with a range of veterinary, animal science, agricultural science and extension expertise. Regular interdisciplinary liaison occurs with all projects.

We are actively involved in sharing of our research findings with farmers and the industry. We work closely with deer industry organisations and the Veterinary Associate Deer Special Interest Group.

Examples of research

Leptospirosis in deer

Three projects have investigated different aspects of leptospirosis in relation to deer, including:

  • Epidemiology and control in farmed deer herds
  • Growth and reproduction effects
  • Inter-specie grazing and multi-species disease

Johne's disease

A six-year epidemiological study sought to understand the major risk factors for this disease, to enable management recommendations. This included identification of farm and animal infection rates, efficiency of meat inspectors in detecting lesions and the effect of vaccination in young deer.

Fetal wastage

Investigating the prevalence and incidence of abortion in deer herds and identification of potential infectious and non-infectious causes. Development and validation of tests for various pathogens and identifying solutions including vaccinations for Toxoplasma.

Trace elements and minerals

Evaluation of the role of trace elements in deer production with a view to developing methods of control and prevention of deficiency-mediated disease and loss of production. Includes evaluation of forages to supply trace elements and the metabolism of copper and mineral composition of deer.

Deer welfare

Evaluation of analgesia of the pedicle and antler. This resulted in best practice for analgesia of the velvet antler. An additional study concerns the factors contributing to the death of stags under xylazine sedation for the purpose of antler removal.


A research project conducted by Massey found that chicory and sulla reduce parasite burdens in deer, while condensed tannins in alternative forages reduce larval uptake and secretion.

No staff selected

The research team