World harvest extends far and wide. The farming of deer species for their velvet antler has been occurring for a long time in China and Russia. The Asian industry raises a predominant amount of sika, aka. spotted deer, on private and communal farms where they are well cared for by private owners. Quality of a this profound botanical is of utmost importance. Farms in Asia it is also both industry and government regulated for quality, safety, and the welfare of the animals.
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Moose, elk and deer produce new antlers yearly (primarily males, except in caribou/reindeer). In New Zealand, deer are subject to local anesthesia and restrained during antler removal, and the procedure is supervised by licensed veterinarians. Typically, the antler is cut off near the base after it is about two-thirds of its potential full size, between 55 and 65 days of growth, before any significant calcification occurs. The procedure is generally done around June in the Northern Hemisphere and December in the Southern Hemisphere.
A systemic review on human interventions makes note of a study conducted on patients of osteoarthritis (Edelman et al. 2000; cannot be located online) which found improvements in joint pain symptoms relative to baseline in the Velvet Antler group and not placebo, although a lack of information on blinding and randomization precludes results that can be drawn from this study.