There are over 300 registered deer breeding facilities in Michigan. These facilities are home to almost 25,000 farm raised whitetails. There are commonly 3 types of registered farms for deer; Exhibition Farms, Ranches, and Breeding Farms.
Over the years, our team has grown and so have our farms. With endless benefits to operating a deer farm, our families wouldn't have it any other way!
Maintaining a deer herd can be fun for the whole family. Human presence in the pens helps the herd remain calm when work needs to be done, and often families will toss treats out in the evenings together. Group activities in the pens benefit the herd and can help teach children responsibility and hard work. Bottle feeding can be an amazing bonding experience, and often a deer farming family will raise each season’s fawns as a unit. Anyone of any age can thrive in the deer farming community.
“My husband starting deer farming has allowed myself and our family to all have the pleasure of seeing new life come into the world and watching these amazing animals grow every summer. I am excited to raise our daughter in the deer farming industry because it will instill responsibility and hard work from a young age.”
Laura Badger- Wife of a deer farmer
“My favorite part of being a deer farmer is the unique relationship I get to have with the animals. These deer rely on us to stay healthy, and it is truly a labor of love going out and treating them every day.”
Amanda Corrick, GCC at Legends Ranch Herd Health Assistant
“Deer farming has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I get to work with whitetails from birth to harvest. The transformation from a 6 pound fawn to a 250 inch buck is breathtaking. Jumping from hunting deer to farming them was just a continuation of a lifelong passion.”
Jake Badger, GCC at Legends Ranch Manager
“I grew up on a dairy farm. Being able to merge my farming history with my passion for deer hunting in my chosen career has been incredible.”
Corey Ford, Legends Ranch
The cost will be $100 per person (adults and children alike, Maximum of 4 people if not specified). Includes self-guided tour of Wildlife Center at Legends Ranch.
Private experience will be Monday through Friday beginning in July and will run through September. Clients will arrive at scheduled time in the AM and will participate in entire process of cutting antlers. Staff will dart and sedate animal and then give hands on experience with medicating, banding antlers, and cutting antlers. Following antler cutting you will go on a tour of the fawn barn, breeding barn, shed room, and handling facility as well as a drive through of our breeding facility. Overall experience will be 1-2 hours.
We have private feedings available starting in July. This private tour will be available Monday through Friday starting on July 6th through August 27th. This will include the experience of bottle feeding multiple pens of fawns- approximately 1 hour of feeding/socializing with fawns. After feeding you will receive a tour of the fawn barn, breeding barn, shed room and handling facility as well as a drive through of our breeding facility. Overall experience will be 2 hours.
Private darting workshop will be held Monday through Friday between the hours of 8am and 5pm. Staff will explain and give hands-on experience of the entire darting process. This will include prepping darts, loading darts, and actually firing the CO2 powered projector. This darting workshop will last approximately 1 hour. Afterwards the client will receive a tour of the fawn barn, breeding barn, shed room and handling facility as well as a drive through of our breeding facility. Overall experience will be 2 hours.
(Dates TBD) This will be a fast pace, high intensity and hands on experience of how to move whitetail deer through a handling facility with the purpose of separating mothers from fawns. You will arrive at 8am for a private tour of the fawn barn, breeding barn, shed room, and handling facility as well as a drive through of our breeding facility. Following this tour, at 9am you will actively participate in running deer through the barn for a 1 hour experience with our crew. Overall experience will be 2 hours.
This will be one of the more in-depth experiences we have to offer. Tour will be available in late August/early September Monday through Friday. You will have the experience of accompanying staff while we remotely sedate multiple animals, medicate, remove dead velvet from antlers, retag, load in trailer, and finally release animals into hunting pasture. Afterwards the client will receive a tour of the fawn barn, breeding barn, shed room, and handling facility as well as a drive through of our breeding facility. Overall experience will be 2-3 hours.
This experience will include a chance to hold a newborn fawn as well as watching staff tag and vaccinate a baby fawn in our breeding facility. Tours will be available Monday through Friday at 8am with one hour of searching pens/tagging, followed by a tour of the fawn barn, breeding barn, shed room, and handling facility as well as a drive through of our breeding facility. Client will NOT actively medicate or tag fawns. Overall experience will be 2 hours.
Visit www.gccmichigan.com or reach out to Jake@LegendsRanch.com for more information.
Most deer farms require some type of motorized equipment, such as tractors and side by sides. Farm equipment needed depends on the size of your farm. A small farm can function with just a four wheeler and lawn mower, while a larger farm may require more significant equipment such as tractors and brush hogs.
DNR Registration fees and Initial Inspection- range $500-$1000
Fence installation- generally priced as cost per foot of 10’ high fence plus gates. A one acre pen divided in two sides will be priced between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on environment and ease of access.
Deer Purchase- Will be negotiated with deer farmers directly. Contact Jake@LegendsRanch.com to discuss details of our low initial cost Start a Deer Farm Package.
Feed Cost- Feed can be purchased directly through a feed mill in large quantities or through Legends Ranch in smaller quantities. It will cost approximately $500 per deer for a year of feed.
Medications and remote delivery systems- It is recommended to purchase a dart gun to be able to administer medications and tranquilizers when necessary. Dart gun packages including darts start around $600. Medication will depend on the size and healthiness of herd. Single dose medications can be prescribed from a veterinarian to minimize cost.
Whitetail deer in Michigan deer farms are considered livestock. Accordingly, the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) work together to regulate deer farming within the state lines. The MDA works closely with farmers to monitor specific animal movements within the state and the DNR enforces the rules and regulations of deer farming.
Deer farms exist on all types of land and are allowed in the whole state of Michigan. However, breeding operations generally perform best on dry land. Keeping farms distanced from public roads can be helpful for privacy and deer calmness but it is not required. Deer can usually adapt to the habitat they are placed in.
The amount of land needed depends strictly on your goals. There are deer farms that range from a half-acre to hundreds of acres. Many people start small but maintain acreage for the possibility to expand in the future. Generally, farmers try to limit population size to 4 deer per acre to allow forage to grow and to limit bacteria buildup in pens.
Bucks – Depending on age and size of antlers a buck can sell for as little as $500 all the way up to $20,000 for the most desirable breeder studs.
Does – The cost for a female is directly related to her genetics and pedigree. A desirable marketable animal may sell for thousands whereas a deer with few known traits may sell for a few hundred dollars.
Whitetail breeding decisions are all about your desired outcomes. If you wish to sell animals in auctions, you may want to participate in artificial breeding with popular bucks from around the country. If your goal is strictly creating bucks for hunting ranches, natural breeding will help you meet your goals at a lower cost.
Deer are wild animals at heart so it is best to treat them as such. Exceptions do exist; bottle fed deer can be very friendly and approachable.
Deer that grow up in a pen with pets nearby may have a certain tolerance for domestic pets you may have. Any pet that remains with you while in pens will usually be met with curiosity, but a pet running free is very discouraged and can scare the deer to the point of injuring themselves. Loose domestic animals are a real danger to captive deer.
Chronic Wasting Disease is a prion disease in whitetails causing neurological symptoms and death, but is not known to transfer to humans. Most animals found positive with CWD in breeding operations have been harvested or die from unrelated illnesses and are then found to be positive upon required testing. Strict protocols and regulations are in place to protect captive herds and people alike from CWD. Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is another disease common throughout the country, including Michigan. EHD is a virus that affects wild and domestic hoofed animals. The virus is spread by a small fly biting an infected host and then biting a susceptible animal afterwards. The best way to prevent EHD on your farm is by using a vaccine and future breeding of animals who may show some resistance to the virus.
The short answer is deer farming is busy year round. There are certain seasons of the year busier than others. There are four main seasonal aspects of deer farming:
Visit www.gccmichigan.com or email Jake@LegendsRanch.com for more information on deer farming seminars and private tours offered here at Gutierrez Cervid Company at Legends Ranch. Start a deer farm seminars will cover the most exciting parts of deer farming including fawn tagging tips and tricks, cutting velvet antlers, exposure to our bottle fed fawns, feeding, breeding and much more. Toggle Content