Scottish deer antlers head for Chinese medicine market

Deer farmer Rupert Shaw, right, with Hong Kong trading company boss Janis Varklas. Picture: NFU Scotland/PA Wire
Deer farmer Rupert Shaw, right, with Hong Kong trading company boss Janis Varklas. Picture: NFU Scotland/PA Wire
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In one of the most unusual exports in recent times, a shipment of Scottish red deer antlers has started its 35-day journey from Dumfries and Galloway to the Far East where the antlers will be used in medical potions.

The consignment, organised by deer farmer Rupert Shaw, left Gledpark Farm, Borgue, near Kirkcudbright, for Grangemouth before travelling by sea to Hong Kong.

Demand for Scottish deer antlers in Chinese medicinal products could represent a very valuable market

Rupert Shaw

Having identified a potential buyer for the antlers through his website, a year-long process saw Shaw go on to secure the necessary export licence for the load and the complete the deal. Most of the red deer antlers in the shipment came from Gledpark’s herd of farmed deer with several other Scottish venison producers contributing antlers to fill the container.

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Antlers, exclusively found on stags, are cast annually and can be collected. Producers of Chinese medicine have valued Scottish red deer antler horn at up to £16 per kilo, depending on antler condition, colour, cleanliness and age.

In an important development for the region, future shipments to Hong Kong are already being planned.

Shaw, who is also NFU Scotland’s regional chairman in Dumfries and Galloway, said: “Although it is early days, the potential demand for Scottish deer antlers in Chinese medicinal products could represent a very valuable market for those who are already producing venison, or are planning to keep deer in the future.

“At current prices of fup to £16 per kilo of antler, and many adult stags casting a set of antlers that could weigh more than 15 kilos, there is a valuable return to be gained if we can secure a foothold in this market.”

Wethers on the wane but lambs rising

There was a mixed trade for this season’s lambs being traded at yesterday’s Lairg North Country Cheviot sheep sale with demand for wethers slightly back – £3.37 – on last year while buyers from all over the country competed for the ewe lambs thus pushing the average price up by £5.73 on the year.

David Leggat of United Auctions, who carried out the trade setting sale, said afterwards that buyers of wethers had possibly suffered a little in the past two years with poorer than expected finished market prices.

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Top wether price was £71 for 82 from Alan MacKay, South Balkeith, Tain with C Anderson, Achosich hitting the same mark with his pen.

Other top prices included, at £68.50, Henderson, Inverbreckie Drive, at £68 Grant-Mackintosh, Springfield and at £67 Joyce Campbell, Armadale

The ewe lamb trade was topped at £160 for a pen from Campbell Armadale. This was followed by £135 to MacKay, South Balkeith. A similar trade was paid to Badanloch Estate, followed by £130 to Dunbeath farms.

Team to head the Highland Show

Little more than a month after this year’s Highland Show, the presidential team who will lead it into the 2018 event has been announced with lawyer Sir Crispin Agnew in charge.

Agnew will preside over the 178th Royal Highland Show next year with his home region of Lothians as the “host” area. His vice-presidents are Sir Robert M Clerk, Charles Dudgeon FRICS, Professor Julie Fitzpatrick and Louise Welsh.

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The team serves for one year and represents the area where the Royal Highland Show would have been held had it still been moving around Scotland.

Agnew, an advocate since 1982 and a QC, specialises in rural property and agricultural law, which includes agricultural cases for both landlords and tenants. He was a member of the Scottish Government’s Agricultural Holdings Law Review Group.

Clerk was a land agent and partner at Smiths Gorefrom 1980 to 2003 and is widely experienced in the management of rural properties.

Dudgeon is head of Savills property consultancy’s Edinburgh office and a director of the family farming business at Humbie Farm in West Lothian.

Fitzpatrick is scientific director of Moredun Research Institute and the CEO of the Moredun Foundation while Welsh has worked in the food industry for more than 15 years, most recently in senior management at Morrisons.

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