deer velvet

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Male deer and elk antlers are made up of a honeycombed bone-like tissue and are covered in a soft membrane called "velvet." They shed between January and April after the mating season and grow every year. This velvet contains:
amino acids
minerals
proteins
Growth Factor-1*
*protein hormone (molecular structure similar to insulin)

Mounting points for antlers called Pedicles appear on a young deer's forehead during his first year. Small shafts will develop the next year. By year three, the antlers will grow its first branch.

In the growth phase, the antlers are covered in "velvet" to supply nutrients for the rapid growth that will last 2-4 months. When the velvet is no longer needed, a ring at the bottom of the antler shaft forms and cuts off the supply of blood and nutrients, and the velvet withers and begins to fall off with the help of the deer rubbing his antlers against trees.

Picture credited to John White
Sika Deer (Cervus nippon) Shedding Velvet From Antlers

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