TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY® White-Tailed Deer and Cervids Research Program



White-Tailed Deer and

Cervids Research Program

Texas Tech University ®

Texas Tech University White-tailed

Deer And Cervids Research Program

The rapid and sustained growth of the cervid farming industry in Texas is showing promise as an alternative agricultural opportunity.  Deer Breeders Corporation (DBC) and Texas Tech University (TTU) have established a partnership to develop a state-of-the art research and educational initiative to investigate both short and long term challenges relevant to the white-tailed deer farming industry.  These challenges include a better understanding of pharmaceutical metabolism and persistence, transmission dynamics and prevention of infectious diseases of cervids, and genetic and nutritional factors that influence white-tailed deer farming.


Background and Significance:

“The deer breeding industry is a growing industry in the Texas economy, particularly the rural economy. As traditional agricultural revenue sources decline in rural communities, these economies increasingly rely on new industries, such as deer farming. The industry generates an estimated $652 million in economic activity, while supporting 7,335 jobs.”(Frosch et al. 2008).


Captive farming of cervids, including white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), mule deer, elk, and moose, continues to grow as an alternative agricultural revenue source, with the number of individual farms increasing by 15% during the five years from 2002 through 2007. It was reported that there were 7,828 cervid farms in 2007, including 5,654 deer farms and 1,917 elk farms (Anderson et al., 2007; USDA NASS, 2007).  Frosh and colleagues (2008) reported that there were 1,060 registered/permitted cervid farming operations in Texas in December 2007.


Figure 1. Distribution of U.S. cervid farming industry, as of 2007 (Frosh et al. 2008)


DeVuyst (2013) provides an excellent summary of the white-tailed deer farming industry in the U.S., as well as a very detailed breakout of associated costs, potential profit breakeven strategies, and fiscal decision-making models for consideration (See Attachment).


Through discussions between DBC leadership and TTU researchers several specific and complex knowledge gaps and capability shortfalls have been identified that significantly and negatively influence success among commercial white-tailed deer farmers throughout Texas and the United States.  The knowledge gaps and capability shortfalls identified as the most important include pharmaceutical residue persistence, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, and the quantification of genetic qualitative traits in progeny prediction.


Through this partnership a mutually beneficial relationship will be established, through which TTU research scientists will work directly with DBC leadership to identify and address specific challenges affecting the white-tailed deer farming industry.  Additionally, the results, findings and broader knowledge gained from the research conducted through this program will significantly benefit the management of wild free-ranging white-tailed deer populations.

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