Which species and what does in matter?


Many claims are made over which deer species produces the best Venison.  Claims include subjective comments such as "finer texture", "just a hint of game", "Chef's choice" and so on...  all rather confusing.  So who makes these claims and what basis are they made?

Who makes the claims:  Mostly producers and processors with a commercially based biased point of view.  Many Australian producers began their deer farming enterprises starting out with fallow deer as they were readily available as feral stock, are relatively small (no bigger than a sheep, just longer legs) and therefore perceived as being easier to farm.  In reality, there is very little difference between the various species.  
Why they make the claims: The claims mostly emanate from producers & processors that do not have the infrastructure available to produce and process larger species.   

Wild Shot Deer, an important point of difference: throw away comments and  claims regarding venison qualities are also made by many wild deer shooters.  The shooter can only kill and recover what's available at the time the shot is taken. So, to get around this, they'll tell you, the consumer,  what you should buy, regardless of species, size gender or age.

In Australia,  two farmed species go head to head more so than the others. Fallow & Red, each with pros and cons. It's not their perceived differences in texture, flavour or tenderness, those qualities can be largely indiscernible, it's more to do with yield and natural fall. Overwhelmingly, it's carcass size that wins, not the breed. Elk are the only exception to the taste test rule - they possess a depth of flavour not found in other species - and they have the ability to marble.

At Hahndorf Venison, we do not hold a bias toward one deer species over another. It is important to note we farm and process several different species. We have the facilities and infrastructure in place to readily identify and segregate like with like.  Elk, Red, Fallow, Chital, Sika, Hog, Blackbuck & more. Hahndorf Venison offers guidance and advise, but ultimately we let the product do the talking and allow you to decide.

Elk, Red Deer & Red Deer X Elk have the distinct advantage in that they are bigger and mature at a later age than the smaller species.  The larger carcass composition also
means better recovery and minimised waste.
Indisputable facts:  

  • a 4 month old Elk will easily achieve a live body weight of 90+ kilograms.  
  • A Red Deer X Elk will achieve live weight of 120+ kg at 9 months.  
  • The average Fallow Deer buck will struggle to make 50 kg's at 12 months old, mature fallow females rarely exceed 50 kg's.  

Unfortunately many of the fancy cuts like cheeks, onglet, babette & others are just not viable to recover from smaller deer < 40kg carcass weight.

So there you have it: Size does matter!

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