Deer research at Massey works to advance scientific knowledge of the biology and farming of deer.

Interdisciplinary projects draw on veterinary, animal and agricultural science and extension expertise from across the university. We transfer technology and research findings to farmers and conduct on-farm investigation of health and production problems to enhance productivity. We also work closely with deer industry organisations and the Veterinary Association Deer Special Interest Group.

Research expertise

Breeding and reproduction of deer

Our research in this area focuses on the prevalence, incidence an possible causes of abortion in deer herds. Development and validation of tests for various pathogens and identifying solutions including vaccinations for toxoplasma.

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Deer health

We are studying the epidemiology and control of newly diagnosed diseases, such as haemolytic disease associated with erythrocytic inclusion bodies, bacterial infections such as Bartonella spp, and eye lesions associated with cervine herpes virus in farmed herds. We are also doing epidemiological study of leptospirosis and deer Johne’s disease to develop industry management strategies.

We are also focused on parasite control and prevention, with special reference to the role of plant secondary compounds.

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Deer nutrition

We are evaluating the mechanism and efficiency of feedstuff digestion. We are also investigating the role of trace elements and minerals in deer production, and methods of control and prevention of deficiency-mediated disease and loss of production. Research in methane production is also taking place with reference to nutritional factors, physiology and microbial populations in a comparative species context.

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Deer production and growth

We are evaluating forage species for growth and production to produce quality venison for market needs. This includes evaluation of the establishment, management, nutritive value and persistence of alternative pasture species, and impacts of forage species on health and well-being.


Deer welfare

We are evaluating analgesia best practice for removal of the pedicle and velvet antler, and studying factors contributing to the death of stags under xylazine sedation for antler removal.

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Research projects


    Animal Genetic Services

    Massey University’s Equine Parentage and Animal Genetics Services Centre offers the most comprehensive range of DNA-based genetic testing for animals in New Zealand.

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    Farm Services Clinic

    Massey University’s Farm Services Clinic provides on-farm treatment for all farm animals as well as in-clinic consultations as required. We have a large animal hospital in Palmerston North providing ongoing care as well as advanced diagnostic imaging, intensive care and surgery for our patients.

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    Animal expertise

    Find out more about research, facilities, research degrees, services and resources to do with other production animal specialities at Massey University.