NADeFA Supports Research for CWD Live Test

CANTON, Ohio — The North American Deer Farmers Association (NADeFA) announces that, in conjunction with the Cervid Livestock Foundation, it is sponsoring research at Kansas State University to develop an all-new testing protocol for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). A new ‘live test’ will help detect the disease earlier, increase efficiency for deer farming operations, and prevent the needless deaths of thousands of animals which are merely suspected of having the disease.

The NADeFA-funded research is developing three different testing methods — nasal swab, rectal biopsy and blood samples — for the early detection of CWD. In developing the new live test protocol, KSU researchers are collecting tissue and blood samples from quarantined whitetail and red deer herds in various parts of country. The presence of CWD had previously been detected in these select herds, and additional test samples will be collected and analyzed after the herds are depopulated.

“We’re very excited about the potential of this new research program as well as what a reliable live test can do for the industry,” says Shawn Schafer, executive director for the North American Deer Farmers Association. “Current management practices typically require the destruction of entire herds of animals just because one animal tested positive for CWD, and we usually learn after the fact that most of the animals destroyed were perfectly healthy. A scientifically proven live test will eliminate these needless deaths and improve efficiencies for deer farmers across the country.”

Schafer explains that the current Federal CWD Certification Program, which the deer industry worked extensively with USDA to develop, has already established that the deer industry is efficient and proactive on issues of disease prevention and management, just as are other agriculture-based industries. A new CWD live test is simply the next evolution in promoting animal health and preventing disease.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose. It typically causes a spongy degeneration of an animal’s brain resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death. According to records collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1998 to 2012, CWD occurs in less than one percent of the nation’s deer population. CWD’s origin is unknown, but it was first identified about 40 years ago in a mule deer being held at a government research facility in Colorado.

Today, cases of CWD have been identified in 22 states among both free-ranging and farm-raised deer. In 10 of those states, CWD is only found in the free-ranging deer and not in farm deer.

The North American Deer Farmers Association was founded in 1983 and is dedicated to the promotion of deer farming and ranching as an agricultural pursuit and serves its members through its educational programs and publications and by providing leadership in setting and maintaining quality standards. NADeFA represents the deer farming industry at all levels of government, and works closely with livestock producers and other organizations to promote ethical standards of conduct and husbandry in deer farming and to actively market standards for deer and deer products. NADeFA representatives are also available to media for expert testimony and information about deer farming and animal health issues, such as Chronic Wasting Disease, EHD and other topics.

For more information about NADeFA and membership, call 330.454.3944 or visit

Since 1983, the North American Deer Farmers Association (NADeFA) has worked to establish and promote deer farming as an agricultural pursuit and to facilitate education on breeding, handling and deer farm management. For more information on the North American Deer Farmers Association, call 330.454.3944 or visit