The furry covering on antlers is called velvet. The velvet on deer antlers protects the growing cartilage that will eventually calcify to form the hardened bone antlers.
In addition to providing protection, this furry covering also facilitates the passage of blood to the cartilage by providing a channel that runs up the length of the antler.
Shedding Time Frame
Deer shed velvet at the end of their four-month growth cycle before the deer-breeding season begins.
Physical Effects of Shedding
Velvet that is being shed or removed from deer antlers does not cause the deer any pain, because the antlers have formed into bones and no longer have sensitive nerve endings.
A male deer may rub his antlers against a tree, fence or bush in an effort to remove the velvet once his antlers have completed growing. Some deer are not bothered by the shedding and let the velvet fall off naturally.
Deer antler velvet is used as a powdered nutritional supplement. According to drugs.com, it is used to treat arthritis, increase circulation and has anti-aging properties.
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