Transport of Deer: A Review with Particular Relevance to Red Deer (Cervus Elaphus)
Abstract:Farmed deer, of which the predominant species is the red deer (Cervus elaphus), are increasingly transported to abattoirs for slaughter rather than being shot at pasture. In order to satisfy meat hygiene and marketing requirements, the welfare of deer is often reduced because all farmed animals are stressed by commercial transportation. Several recent experimental studies (reviewed here) have found the magnitude of behavioural and physiological responses of deer to many aspects of handling and transport to be similar to those measured in other farm species, particularly ruminants. Thus, their welfare appears not to be unduly compromised despite their comparatively recent domestication. Deer are, however, particularly flighty and require specialized handling facilities and equipment, the key features of which are summarized.
Legislation covering transport of deer is already operative in many countries with the aim of safeguarding deer welfare. However, the responses of deer to commercial transportation have not yet been measured scientifically. This primary information is needed before a full assessment of the effects of transport on the welfare of deer can be made. Thermal conditions during transit are of importance for deer welfare and these have not been measured, either under experimental conditions or during commercial journeys.