Accepted paper:

"Save time, save money ...grow profitable deer!" - breedwealth and deer


Christopher Ward (University of Nottingham)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the breeding of deer to achieve certain perfected deer bodies, and what role such practices has had in the creation of new ideals and marketable assets.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will investigate the ideals and conceptions of deer breeds, which whilst present since the 17th century, has become particularly evident with the recent rapid commercialisation of the venison trade. Deer are bought and sold, and particularly stags are offered as "studs" to further spread sought features in a herd. Here the formation of the deer's body presents certain sought ideals for certain sought outcomes; and deer are apparently tailored through breeding to cater to specific demands. As such, the individual deer comes to stand in place of the herd in a representation of qualities to be introduced. Even within wild deer management and conservation, ideals of a herd's breed or morphology seem to transcend the conceptions of species. In the practices of deer managers an unusual interplay with the ideals of breeds and the conception of wildness becomes embodied in their herds. Following the theory of "breedwealth" (Franklin 1997; 2007), where value is placed upon the practice rather than the outcome, I will argue that the very practices and processes of herd management appear to be valued above the actual outcome of the breeding-practices upon the herd. Furthermore, with many deer farms now springing up around Europe, how does the treatment of deer as property have for not only legislation and practices, but also for accepted views of domestication, wildness and interspecies interactions? Are deer farmers adapting agricultural methods, or are they exploiting the biological, behavioural and landscape potential of the deer?

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Animals' matter: anthropological conceptions of animal bodies as material