Schell’s responds to concerns about deer herd

We (Schell’s Brewery) received a complaint from a concerned citizen about the condition of our deer at the Schell’s deer park. We thank her for her concern and share in her compassion for the well-being of our deer.

As many know, we have had deer at the Schell’s Brewery since we started, they are a part of our family and a cornerstone of what makes our brewery what it is. This concern comes every year as the deer are preparing for winter and they begin to shed their coats. Similar to the shedding process of a family pet, they gradually grow thicker, darker guard hairs which can cause them to appear a bit disheveled but is completely normal and mimic what happens in the wild.

We do have two aging does in our herd, both suffering from ailments we believe to be incurable. One doe has a potential terminal growth under her left eye, and another is going blind in her right eye. We are deeply saddened by this, no different than watching the cruel aging process of a family pet.

We were blessed this year to have a great reproductive season from our does. Normally, the does produce one fawn, but this year saw one doe give birth to twins, while the other gave birth to triplets. This has greatly increased the number of our herd, and we now have a higher number of deer than we typically have. In an attempt to do what is best for the fawns, we wanted to give them ample amount of time to nurse from the mother before separating them. Every year we reduce our herd by sending some of the newborn fawns to a certified deer farm for a couple reasons: to prevent the risk of incestual breeding amongst the herd, and also for the safety of the young bucks, who will be put in danger when the natural instincts of the rut take hold with our mature buck.

In regard to the concern of the deer not receiving the food they need to maintain a healthy status, we provide the deer with a certified commercial deer food in addition to grains, alfalfa and a de-wormer feed. This food is available for them to graze at all times throughout the day, with ample feed left over each day when they are done feeding. At this time, our does are still nursing the fawns so they do appear thin, but we maintain a constant flow of feed to replenish the nutrients they expend while nursing their young.

While we believe the intentions of these concerns have come from a good place, the citizen has called on people to come to our park to increase the food supply to our herd and has now posed an increased risk to our deer. We continue to extend an open invitation to all who wish to enjoy the gardens and the deer park; however, we do respectfully request people refrain from throwing food in the pen.

Since the outcry on social media, people have been coming to the park and throwing items in the pen that deer cannot consume. Items we’ve had to pull out of their feeding area include orange peels, plastic, paper, chicken meat with bones, mushrooms and a beef burrito still wrapped in plastic. This presents a new set of dangers, as employees and family members of the August Schell Brewing Company need to go in to remove the inedible trash. The bucks are in the heat of the rut at this time and are very aggressive. In the brewery’s history, former president Al Marti was gored by a deer in our park during the rut so the safety of our employees and family is something we take very seriously. Again, we respectfully request visitors, however well intentioned, please refrain from throwing trash and inedible items in our pen.

The DNR was contacted last week about this situation and has dispatched an animal control officer from the New Ulm Police Department. CPL Anderson arrived on site on September 23rd and inspected the living conditions and the general health of our deer. In his official report he noted, “from my 40 years of hunting and the fact that I have experience with sheep, a very close relative of deer, it was my opinion that with the does still nursing and the fact that the deer were currently being de-wormed, could be causing the weight issues. I did note and Marti did point out the fact that there was very little grass inside the pen. It should also be noted that I did observe at least one mineral block available to the deer and Marti stated there was another mineral block inside the pen. I also noted that the buck had a sizeable rack of antlers and that would not be the situation if the animal were not being properly cared for. I advised Marti that I had no concerns of the deer being properly cared for and that I would advise the DNR of my findings.”

Again, we appreciate and thank the visitor for her concern, we will continue to work to provide the best life for the deer at the August Schell Brewing Company, the same way we have for the last 159 years.