What is a Deer Plant?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 July 2018
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A deer plant is a meat processing facility which handles deer. The services offered at a deer plant vary, depending on where it operates, as deer is often treated as a game meat, which means that it falls under a different area of the law than meats of domesticated animals like cows and pigs. Like other meat processing plants, a deer plant is designed to do the tricky and sometimes dirty work of meat processing, relieving people of the difficult part of the job and keeping the meat safe for consumption.

In areas where people hunt deer, they may opt to take their kills to a deer plant for processing. They are usually instructed to bleed and hang their kills and to wrap them loosely to keep insects off, so that the meat is ready for processing. At the deer plant, the animal is butchered and the meat is packaged. The packaged meat is returned to the hunter, while offal is disposed of separately.


Deer processing is often offered by butchers as a side service during hunting season. Butchers can also smoke the meat, if asked to do so, and they can preserve hides and horns for hunters who wish to create mementos of their hunt. The hunter can also choose a number of butchering options, ranging from loosely dividing the meat into primal cuts to creating finished cuts which are ready to use. Some butchers also coordinate dropoffs of meat donations from hunters who participate in charity by donating their meat to people in need.

Deer plants can also operate as slaughterhouses. In this case, the deer are brought to the facility for slaughter and processing. If meat is to be sold commercially or served in restaurants, it may need to be slaughtered in a slaughterhouse by law, to ensure that the meat is handled safely. This reduces the risk of food borne illness. Mobile abattoirs can bring the slaughter to a farm or ranch by request. This may be done to reduce stress on the animals and to cut the costs associated with transport.

Depending on whether meat is being processed for personal use or sale, different restrictions can apply. Meat for personal use is less tightly controlled, as people assume their own liability by eating meat they have killed. Meat prepared for sale needs to pass inspection and be handled in a way which adheres to food safety laws, to reduce liability for the butcher and the company selling the meat. A deer plant which handles both personal and commercial meat must keep this meat carefully controlled; likewise with a facility which handles kosher and halal meats.



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