Deer: Minimising stress at weaning time

Getting deer weaning right can ensure you achieve the best growth and conception rates for the following year.

Weaning is an important time in the deer farming calendar and getting it right can ensure you achieve the best growth and conception rates for the following year.

As with most aspects of deer farming, weaning is another thing that is not set in stone. Most deer farmers will have their own ways and reasoning behind weaning, but, the management aspects around this time are so important to ensure this group stays as healthy as possible.

Ideally, running the hinds and fawns through the shed a few times before weaning is beneficial, plus getting any of those painful procedures done well in advance.

Below are two common weaning options and their associated benefits and potential challenges:

Pre-rut weaning

  • Fawns are weaned off Mum before mating,

  • Flexibility to manage the hinds and fawns independently,

  • Easier to put on, or hold, hind condition, which is especially important in dry summers. Mating results will then benefit,

  • Fawns are younger/smaller and will be less resilient to stress, worms and disease.

Post-rut weaning:

  • Fawns are kept on Mum until after mating,

  • Less stress for the fawn,

  • Hinds can lose condition over mating if feed supply isn’t adequate,

  • Conception, and therefore fawning, can be delayed by 8-10 days.

Other stress minimising tips:

  • Introducing supplementary feed before weaning, and continuing this after weaning,

  • Putting fawns back into the paddock they were in before weaning has been proven to settle them quickly (the Aitken weaning method),

  • Having some adult company (dry or quiet hinds), running at a ratio of 5 to 100 weaners, will help for a more settled experience.

Animal health treatments around weaning:

  • Yersiniavax: 2 shots, ideally given at least 2 weeks before weaning, 3-6 weeks apart.

  • B12, selenium: trace elements will ensure growth and immunity is at its potential.

  • Drench: best to discuss with your vet, especially if pre-rut weaning.

Overall, feedparasite management, trace elements and minimising stress will ensure your weaners are happy and growing well.

As always, please get in contact with us if you think we can help you plan this time of year. Animal health calendars can be beneficial to ensure treatments are managed in a timely and efficient manner.

Sources: DEERHUB> Deer Facts> Best Practice Weaning Management.


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