Whether antlers are removed or left to cast off naturally, they are replaced the following spring by the same natural growth process, so deer velvet is a renewable source.
In New Zealand, velvet removal can only be carried out in accordance with a rigorous mandatory protocol. Veterinarians or specially trained and registered farmers can only remove velvet antler. It is important to note that pain control during velvet removal is ensured by use of local or general anesthetic. A short portion of each antler is left in place which hardens naturally and is cast as a hard “button” in the following spring, mimicking nature.
All farmed deer in New Zealand are held extensively on pasture. New Zealand government legislation called the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and the code of recommendations and Minimum Standards for the Welfare of Deer during the Removal of Antler 1992 and set the standards.
Stags that are kept for velvet production usually have a relatively long life, as they are often farmed for 10 years or more.