The Elk and Wapiti Society of New Zealand as part of its constitution has a mandate to investigate issues for the benefit of its members.  The area of animal health has been a significant focus. In the past this has been funded out of member’s subs. In recent years a Research Auction held at our annual Velvet and Hard Antler Competition has added to the pool. There are a range of diseases and conditions that affect farmed deer in New Zealand.


Parasitism is the most significant of these diseases. Lungworm, Gastrointestinal worms (principally Ostertagia – type) and the external parasiteTicks are the three most important in the farmed environment.  There are some important animal health issues relating to parasites when farming Elk and Wapiti. A survey of members in 2008 prompted some work investigating the cause of Fading Elk Syndrome. We were able to show the cause was gastrointestinal parasites (Ostertagia) and a preventative programme needs to be put in place with an effective drench. 


The follow on from this initial study saw the society lead the way evaluating drench efficacy in deer and exposing alarmingly high levels of drench resistance within the deer industry in New Zealand.  While this was of benefit to members it has ramifications for the whole industry as resistance to Moxidectin is likely to be widespread throughout New Zealand. The use of Pour On in deer is not advised.


*In New Zealand the current best practice drench system for wapiti is a triple combination. Mix together equal parts of Oxfen C and  Oxfen C Plus . Shake vigorously to mix well every time prior to use.  This is the oral component of the drench system and it is administered at the rate of 1 ml per 5kg of body-weight. A 150kg animal as example would receive 30mls of this oral dose. In combination with the oral dose administer by injection 1ml of Cydectin Injection per 50kg of bodyweight. A 150kg animal as example will require 3 mls by injection. The two oral drenches and the one injection used simultaneously produce a very good result for parasite control in all age groups of wapiti. The withholding period for this drench system is 90 days.  For a full scientific explanation of this drench system click here and here  for the links. Additionally in 2021 we are now starting to use a special parasite control tool in the form of "Carla" To read all you need on Carla click here


Meat Withholding times for drench has become a major issue for farmed deer as most drenches in New Zealand are not registered for use in deer and have a default 91day withholding period. We have undertaken drug residue trials with moxidectin injection (Cydectin) due to its widespread use despite not being registered for use in deer in New Zealand Findings:- Moxidectin injection is safe to use on deer 49days from slaughter.In recent years considerable effort has been dedicated to investigating parasites in deer and the result provides best practice based on current knowledge.


Copper deficiency, Ryegrass Staggers and Facial Eczema affect all deer but it would appear Elk and Wapiti are more susceptible than other breeds.

Facial Eczema  is confined to areas of the North Island where the causative spore counts become high during the January to May period. For more information see the Deer NZ Facial Eczema information page.


Some of the other animal health conditions of deer farming generally include Tuberculosis, Johnes disease, Leptospirosis, Yersinia and Fusiformis