How to Start a Deer Farm in 14 Steps (In-Depth Guide)

Updated: March 26, 2024 is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The deer farming industry in the United States is a lucrative market. Projections show the deer industry reaching an evaluation of more than $2,705 million by 2028. With demand for venison and other deer products continuing to grow, now may be the ideal time to consider starting your deer farm.


Raising deer can be a rewarding endeavor for those with some acreage and an interest in animal husbandry. As wild deer populations decline, farmed venison and antlers are increasingly meeting consumer demand. Deer farms allow you to sustainably raise and harvest cervid species while catering to various niche markets.

This guide will walk you through how to start a deer farm. Topics include market research, competitive analysis, registering an EIN, obtaining business insurance, forming an LLC, and more.

1. Conduct Deer Farm Market Research

Market research is a necessity for anyone raising deer species. It offers insight into the best deer to raise, including fallow and sika deer. The fallow deer is especially popular in Europe. It also provides details on your target audience, tips to raise deer, equipment needed for new deer farmers, and more.


Some details you’ll learn through market research as a deer farmer include:

  • The majority of revenue in the industry comes from sales of farmed deer products to the commercial hunting industry.
  • Hunters on preserves are the primary customers seeking trophy bucks with large antlers.
  • White-tailed deer represent close to 90% of the farmed deer in the U.S.
  • Deer farming is concentrated in the Midwest and Southeast.
  • There are several attractive factors for raising deer including demand for venison continuing to outpace supply.
  • Startup costs can also be lower compared to other livestock such as beef while requiring less intensive daily management.
  • There are risks prospective deer farmers need to consider.
  • Obtaining adequate acreage is critical since deer require at least one acre per animal.
  • Restrictions and regulations vary greatly by state with some outright banning captive deer farming.
  • Overpopulation leading to disease issues has impacted parts of the industry.

Overall, increasing global demand for high-quality protein sources and niche deer products positions the industry for continued stable growth. With proper planning raising deer can be a healthy long-term business opportunity.

2. Analyze the Competition

Understanding the competitive landscape is critical for any new business, including deer farms. First, identify local deer farms that have physical storefronts by searching online directories and driving around your area.

Expand the search online, and look at highly rated deer farms in other states. Compare their offerings and prices to what may work in your location. Join industry forums to connect with other deer farmers and learn what has been successful for them.

Evaluating online competition is also vital nowadays. Google search terms people would use to find deer products/farms, counting the ads showing to gauge demand. Check competitor farm websites for SEO optimization, content, and marketing.

Using Alexa or SimilarWeb, get traffic stats for competitor sites to benchmark against. Run sites through marketing grader tools to compare digital marketing prowess. Contrast amenities like e-commerce functionality. These steps reveal areas needing investment to stand out.

By thoroughly analyzing regional and digital deer farm competitors, you obtain crucial information. Find out what deer products are in demand and selling well locally versus nationally. Discover optimal pricing and opportunities to introduce unique offerings.

3. Costs to Start a Deer Farm Business

When embarking on raising deer, there are a variety of start-up costs to consider before even purchasing your first animal. Proper planning and budgeting early on can set your new deer farm venture up for success.

Start-up Costs

One of the biggest start-up costs is acquiring enough acreage. Deer requires ample space, with guidelines recommending at least 1-2 acres per animal. Land suitable for deer needs to provide food sources and shelter.

Rural farmland can work well and prices vary greatly but budget $5,000-10,000 per acre as an estimate. For a small starter herd of 20-30 deer, 40-60 acres would be ideal, so land costs may range from $200,000 to $600,000.

Along with land, startup costs include:

  • Fencing – Perimeter fencing is crucial to safely contain deer, expecting costs of $3,000-5,000 per acre. For 40 acres, it would be $120,000 to $200,000. Nine-foot woven wire fencing works well. Internal fencing to divide pens may cost around $10/foot. These costs are similar to those you’d spend fencing off a hog farm and similar game.
  • Housing – Basic deer housing like pole barns typically run $10-$20 per square foot. For a 1,500 sq ft barn, that’s $15,000-30,000. Deer also needs shelter from sun/rain – materials and construction for 3-sided sheds could be another $5,000.
  • Equipment – Essential equipment like feeders, waterers, and ATVs for tending the herd can run $15,000-25,000. Head gates to restrain deer for health checks are around $2,000 each. For the harvest, walk-in coolers to process meat could cost $8,000-12,000 depending on size.
  • Initial Herd Stock – Purchasing quality starter deer varies greatly but plan on $3,000-7,000 per deer. With an initial target herd of 30 deer, costs would be $90,000-210,000. Quarantining new deer and testing for disease is vital too.
  • Business Incorporation – Forming an LLC for the deer farm may cost $500-1,500 including filing fees and attorney charges. Insurance costs need to be accounted for as well, potentially $5,000 annually.

In total, conservative start-up costs for a small deer farm would likely fall in the $450,000 to $900,000+ range, not counting land value if purchased outright. Loans to finance such a capital-intensive start-up should be explored.

Ongoing Costs

In terms of ongoing monthly and annual expenses, expect:

  • Feed – Deer requires high-quality feed year-round. Annual costs could reach $100 per deer x herd size. For 30 deer, about $250/month or $3,000 annually.
  • Vet Care – Similar to other livestock, deer have regular check-ups and medicine needs annually, potentially $50-100 each ($1,500-3,000 for a small herd).
  • Farm Labor – Part-time or full-time hired help for daily chores like feeding, fence/barn maintenance, etc. Budget $30,000+ annually for a part-time role, $40-60k for full-time.
  • Marketing – Promoting deer products and hunting services will require an ongoing marketing budget. Allot $2,000-5,000 annually for digital ads, print materials, etc.
  • Operational Expenses – Utilities, fuel for equipment, administrative supplies, and other monthly deer farm expenses could run $500-1,500.
  • Taxes/Licensing – State deer farm permitting fees, property taxes, income taxes, etc. need inclusion in operating budgets. Highly variable but several thousand dollars annually.

4. Form a Legal Business Entity

Before you begin collecting different dear species as a deer farmer, you need to form a legal business entity. When establishing a legal structure for a deer farm business, owners have four primary options:

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest as it does not entail forming a separate legal entity. The deer farm and owner file taxes as one using a Schedule F and personal tax return. This offers easy setup and full control. However, the owner assumes unlimited liability if sued for issues like deer escapes, disease outbreaks, customer injury on property, etc.


A general partnership involves two or more deer farm co-owners conducting business together without formal registration. Profits/losses pass through to partners to include on personal tax returns. However, each partner is jointly liable for debts and legal issues. Disagreements can lead to partnership dissolution.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Given the frequent interaction with customers/hunters plus health regulations around livestock, a limited liability company (LLC) is typically the best structure for deer farms from a liability perspective. It limits owner liability, offers flexibility for profit distributions, and allows raising investment capital through selling membership interests.

5. Register Your Business For Taxes

An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a federal tax ID number, is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to business entities operating in the United States. An EIN is essentially a Social Security number for your business.

Deer farms must obtain an EIN for federal and likely state tax purposes as well. This ID number is used when reporting employee payroll taxes and deer farm business income on your taxes. An EIN is also required to open a bank account for your deer farm and properly track expenses and income.

Applying for an EIN with the IRS is free and can be completed online via this application link. The entire process should only take a few minutes. You will need to provide basic information about your deer farm’s ownership structure that was established when forming your business entity registration.

The step-by-step EIN application process entails:

  1. Reviewing requirements and determining eligibility
  2. Providing background details on your deer farm business structure
  3. Entering personal identification information for the principal owner(s)
  4. Providing reason for applying for the EIN (bank account, taxes, employees, etc.)
  5. Submitting the completed IRS online application

Once submitted, your EIN will be provided immediately. This number should then be used for all tax documents, when securing insurance, applying for business licenses, and any other scenarios requiring identification of your deer farm’s business entity.

Deer farms selling products will need to register with their state revenue department to obtain a sales tax permit. There are typically no fees for an EIN or sales tax permit. Ensuring you have both proper business registrations in place will save your deer farm headaches down the road.

6. Setup Your Accounting

Keeping accurate financial records is critical for deer farm owners from the outset. As an agricultural endeavor raising livestock, there are numerous transactions from purchasing feed and equipment to selling venison and antler products.

Accounting Software

Using small business accounting software like QuickBooks helps automate tracking income and expenses flowing through your deer farm’s bank account. QuickBooks syncs seamlessly with bank/credit card accounts, allowing you to categorize transactions for easy reporting.

Hire an Accountant

A qualified accountant provides essential services like monthly reconciliation to verify the accuracy, categorizing intricate transactions properly, and noticing potential issues that software can miss. Expect fees of $100-200 monthly for routine small business accounting assistance.

Open a Business Bank Account and Credit Card

Maintaining separate business banking simplifies record keeping dramatically. Personal expenses can’t accidentally co-mingle with deer farm spending when paid from distinct accounts. Dedicated credit cards likewise enable transparent tracking. Many small business cards don’t even require a personal credit check.

7. Obtain Licenses and Permits

Before opening the gates to customers, every new deer farm must ensure they obtain all required federal, state, and local permissions to legally and safely operate. Find federal license information through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers a local search tool for state and city requirements.

New deer farms must register for unique state-issued permits explicitly allowing captive cervid possession and deer propagation operations. State departments of agriculture oversee approval processes which require submitting applications and facility inspections.

Municipality business licenses also apply to commercial deer ventures depending on location. Counties want assurances proper protocols are planned for issues like biohazard control, veterinary care, carcass removal, etc.

If harvesting venison for consumers, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) approval requires adherence to strict processing standards for sanitation, water quality testing, and butchering procedures.

Selling antlers or deer urine additionally must comply with rules from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulating trade in animal products. Review (CITES permit requirements) thoroughly before exporting any deer byproducts. Certify your operation by submitting inventories, and health certificates signed by accredited vets.

While certainly an involved process, properly licensing your deer farm avoids disastrous consequences down the road. The last thing any new small business needs are lawsuits or criminal charges. Invest time upfront fully understanding all application requirements for raising deer in your area.

8. Get Business Insurance

Operating a deer farm carries an array of risks that make business insurance critical from day one. Without adequate policies shielding your assets, a single mishap could permanently devastate or bankrupt your fledgling operation.

  • Scenario One – A deer escapes perimeter fencing because of undetected storm damage and causes a fatal car collision on a nearby highway. The victim’s family names your business in a multimillion-dollar wrongful death lawsuit.
  • Scenario Two – A strain of chronic wasting disease emerges among your herd, requiring culling your entire inventory per USDA regulations. You lack inventory/income protection to salvage years of asset building.
  • Scenario Three – A barn fire sparked by outdated electrical wiring destroys housing for your deer days before the trophy hunting season, eliminating projected revenue. You have no coverage to rebuild.

The good news is securing protection is straightforward by partnering with an insurer experienced in covering deer farms. Begin by requesting quotes from providers like The Hartford and Progressive Commercial using an online form detailing your operation’s current size, location, herd value, and revenue.

Next, schedule calls with agents to discuss precisely your risks and ideal custom policy blending:

  • General liability – Covers paying legal judgments
  • Farm property coverage – Protects facilities, equipment, livestock
  • Loss of business income – Funds temporary shutdowns
  • Commercial auto – Shields transport vehicles

Expect costs from 1-3% of total asset value covered. Investing in bespoke protection creates security to grow your deer farm.

9. Create an Office Space

Properly managing business finances, inventory, employee records, and customer interactions makes securing some type of administrative office space vital for budding deer farms. An office allows for administrative duties outside the thick of deer farming duties.

Home Office

A basic home office can readily accommodate the needs of deer farms in the early stages. Designating a spare bedroom or basement corner that can fit desk space, file cabinets, and basic office equipment keeps costs minimal. However, security risks and distractions exist with blending professional and personal spaces.

Coworking Office

As business ramps up, exploring coworking spaces like WeWork provides amenities closer to replicating traditional offices at affordable monthly rates. Open floorplan desks, conference rooms, front desk staff, security, breakrooms, parking, and dedicated office equipment available in coworking spaces simplify scaling up administrative capabilities.

On-Site Office

If selling venison or trophies directly to local buyers, securing a retail storefront allows showcasing products onsite while also accommodating back office needs. Storefront costs vary tremendously based on size and location but plan on a minimum of $3,000 monthly for lease payments, utilities, insurance, staffing, etc.

10. Source Your Equipment

Launching a successful deer farming operation relies on securing specialized equipment to safely contain livestock and process harvests. While buying gear new is costliest upfront, purchasing quality materials ensures long-term reliability. Here are some of your buying options.

Buy New

When buying new deer farm equipment, utilize specific retailers offering exactly what’s required. Some things to look for include high fencing, handling systems, housing, tractors, ATVs, and feeders. Big box farm stores may suffice for some needs, but smaller niche shops also work. Try ASE Feed and Supply Store to start.

Buy Used

Purchasing used equipment can dramatically cut costs but requires careful inspection given the intense wear use causes. Check forums like Ranch World Ads to source from nearby ranchers exiting the business. Scour Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for deals on deer farm gear but always verify quality before purchasing.


Rather than buying equipment, renting allows accessing necessary implements like loaders, backhoes, mowers, and trucks affordably for shorter projects. For recurring seasonal tasks like planting plots or managing landscapes, rental fees add up over time.


Leasing equipment through dealers and financing companies constitutes longer-term rental flexibility while building toward ownership. Attractive for large assets like tractors, leases make payments more manageable for 12-48 months. Include service packages to limit maintenance costs on leased equipment.

11. Establish Your Brand Assets

Strategically branding a new deer farm elevates credibility and drives recognition. Investing in professional brand identity components like logos, websites, marketing materials, and branded collateral provides startups an edge against the competition while attracting ideal customers.

Get a Business Phone Number

Acquiring a unique business phone number lends legitimacy right away. Services like RingCentral provide call routing, voicemail transcription, customer service tools, and unlimited US calling plans to present the image of an established operation. Expect costs around $30 monthly.

Design a Logo

A custom logo likewise piques interest while conveying deer farm offerings at a glance. Consider clean, modern marks evoking the natural outdoor or farm aesthetic. Looka’s AI logo generator provides countless deer, antler, or nature-inspired brand mark options costing $20-60 to own outright in vector files.

Print Business Cards

With logo files, produce branded business cards, letterhead, envelopes, invoices, signs, and website graphics. Match colors/fonts across items for cohesion. Order printed materials affordably from Vistaprint.

Get a Domain Name

Purchasing a domain mirrors your farm’s name and logo mark to boost findability online. Use .com over alternate extensions whenever possible. Check domain availability at sites like Namecheap which runs deals under $10 for the first year.

Design a Website

Building a custom website on platforms like Wix costs nothing initially. Leverage convenient templates, drag-and-drop editing tools, SEO optimization features, and integrated e-commerce functionality. Those less tech-savvy can hire an expert web developer affordably from sites like Fiverr.

12. Join Associations and Groups

While launching a deer farm relies heavily on securing land and livestock, tapping into free knowledge resources accelerates success tremendously. Connecting with local and national organizations focused on deer farming allows the sharing of deer and wildlife stories, tips, and more.

Local Associations

State-level groups like the Texas Deer Association provide industry news, seminars, networking, and advertising opportunities specifically for regional operators. Paying reasonable annual dues grants access to members-only forums where veteran deer farmers answer questions and review business plans.

Local Meetups

Attending meetups facilitates making local professional connections too. Sites like Meetup list gatherings like conventions, conferences, and trade shows to mingle with regional deer associations, 4H chapters, hunting groups, conservation clubs, and more. Exchanging business cards builds a robust local network.

Facebook Groups

Online deer farming communities thrive on Facebook. Groups like Deer Farmers and Deer Farming have thousands of members posting questions, troubleshooting issues, discussing regulations, and simply socializing. Peruse endless inspiration from real owners nationwide.

13. How to Market a Deer Farm Business

Implementing persistent marketing is pivotal for rookie deer farms hoping to prosper in this competitive sector. While focusing on properly caring for the herd and delivering premium venison or antler products to initial customers comes first, consistent promotional outreach builds the critical pipeline of future patrons.


Referral Marketing

A satisfied existing customer sharing positive word-of-mouth referrals remains the most valuable vehicle for organic growth. Offer 10% discounts on trophy bucks or gift card bonuses to happy patrons who refer new high-dollar hunters or bulk venison buyers. Incentivize referrals.

Digital Marketing

Digital channels present low-cost, targeted opportunities to reach motivated prospects online:

  • Launch Google Ads campaigns to capture buyers searching for terms like “deer hunting,” “venison” or your region. Pay only for clicks.
  • Create Facebook ads promoting hunting season openings or product availability to qualified area demographics.
  • Start a YouTube channel posting branded videos of the deer farm. Optimize content for searches.
  • Write blog articles highlighting specialty offerings to boost SEO and provide helpful info.
  • Email promotional blasts to subscriber lists to announce inventory or specials.
  • Post Instagram Reels showcasing daily life on the deer farm.

Traditional Marketing

While digital marketing takes consistency, traditional channels still reach certain audiences:

  • Print full-color brochures showcasing deer and offerings for hotel display racks, event booths, etc.
  • Proudly display a professional roadside sign at the deer farm entrance.
  • Take out ads in regional newspapers and magazines ahead of peak seasons.
  • Run 30-second weekend radio commercials on local stations.
  • Rent a booth at major regional hunting and outdoor trade shows.
  • Sponsor local youth conservation groups with branded hats and t-shirts.

Budgeting 10-20% of revenue towards marketing represents a reasonable starting point to activate the channels above driving valuable exposure, traffic, and sales 24/7/365. Track performance and double down on platforms yielding the greatest return on investment.

14. Focus on the Customer

While aspects like quality deer stock, adequate acreage, and proper housing are fundamental, none of that matters without also delivering best-in-class customer service. How you treat clients before, during, and after transactions determines success.


Some ways to improve customer service include:

  • Promptly respond to initial inquiries about hunting trips or bulk venison purchases with thoughtful guidance catering to needs.
  • Schedule facility tours for serious prospects to meet the herd and staff.
  • Provide 5-star hospitality throughout hunting outings with luxury lodging and optional guide service explaining deer patterns.
  • Follow up post-harvest to offer specialty processing with packaging that impresses their inner circles.
  • Seek testimonials and photos from delighted patrons.
  • Staying laser-focused on customer satisfaction means your clients market the deer farm for free when they rave about their experiences to friends.

Providing return hunt discounts or referral bonuses encourages more word of mouth too. When customer service falters, revenue suffers. Deer farms earning reputations through remarkable care for clients find demand constantly intensifies.

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