“Alternative livestock is a viable and growing agricultural business, but we must ensure that our domestic deer are protected,” Strain said. “Part of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s (LDAF) function is to make sure that alternative livestock in the state are healthy and well-cared for. We anticipate no problems with this program because alternative livestock producers take great care of their animals.”
Alternative livestock are defined as any imported exotic deer and imported exotic antelope, elk and farm-raised white-tailed deer.
Strain said those that raise exotic deer and other alternative livestock for commercial purposes must maintain their farm-rating license administered by the LDAF’s Office of Animal Health.
Prior to entering Louisiana, all alternative livestock must have an entry permit number issued by the State Veterinarian's Office. Farm-raised alternative livestock must be contained at all times.
“We’re just ensuring the overall animal health of the deer herd, both domestic and exotic,” Strain said. “The program requires inspection, blood sampling and record keeping by the LDAF so it’s vitally important that everyone involved in this type of livestock operation registers with the LDAF and pay their fees.”
Anyone considering starting an alternative livestock business should contact the Office of Animal Health for an application. Once the application is approved, an inspection of the facility is arranged before alternative livestock are allowed on the premises, Strain said.
There are two types of alternative livestock operations, Strain said.
A breeder pen allows alternative livestock to be raised for buying and selling. No hunting is allowed.
A hunt pen requires a minimum of 300-acres. Hunting is allowed during the regular deer season of Oct. 1-Jan-31. Harvest tags are required and can be purchased through the LDAF. A harvest pen license is required.
Currently, the LDAF licenses 260 breeder pens and 70 hunt pens throughout the state.
Strain said applications and regulations are available by calling the Office of Animal Health at 225-925-3980.