Velveting of Deer and Xylazine

Xylazine hydrochloride is commonly used solely or in combination when velveting deer. Velveting is the removal of the entire soft antler in the first 55-65 days of growth. The velvet antler is exported to Asia for use in health products. Rompun®, 20 mg. per ml., is the only product licensed for use in food producing animals in Canada.

Velveting of deer is performed in a number of ways. One of the more common ways is the intramuscular use of xylazine hydrochloride as a hypnosedative with analgesic and muscle relaxing properties. Yohimbine is often used intravenously as a reversal agent.

For 3-4 year old red deer stags (average weight 97-118 kg), 1.5-2 ml. of 2% xylazine is given by intramuscular injection, preferably in the neck. The deer become recumbent very quickly. The antlers are removed with a saw and inverted to retain the blood. A tourniquet is applied to the base of the antler buttons. The antler is frozen and shipped to Asia for processing.

Xylazine is present as early as 25 minutes and as late as 72 minutes after administration in the velvet, at levels of 70-220 nanograms/gram of antler. This level is not considered to be of pharmacological significance to consumers(1).

Human Hazard

In humans, an oral dose of 2 mg. of xylazine is needed to get a very mild pharmacological effect (20 mg. is well tolerated). However, there have been cases reported where people have absorbed xylazine from needle covers, accidental injections and eye contamination (from spray backs) which have required artificial respiration.

Withdrawal Time for Meat: Ref.(2,3)

  • Xylazine - Canada - (cattle): 3 days
  • Xylazine - New Zealand and Australia (depending on product): 2-3 days
  •  Yohimbine (i.v.): 1 day
  • Ketaset/xylazine combination: 5 days


  1. Dickson S.J., Stone H.M., Queree E.A., Xylazine (Rompun) Levels in Deer Antler Velvet, New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 1983, Vol. 26: 93-94
  2. Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries New Zealand, Registered Animal Remedies for Use in Deer as of 06 May 98, Wallaceville Research Centre, New Zealand.
  3. Compendium of Veterinary Products, North American Compendiums Ltd., 5th. edition, 1997.

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