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Reproduction in farmed red deer cervus elaphus 2. calf growth and mortality



Reproduction in farmed red deer cervus elaphus 2. calf growth and mortality



Journal of Agricultural Science 95(2): 275-284



The sex and number of calves born to a breeding herd of red deer kept under farm conditions were analyzed together with information on mortality and growth rate of the calves until weaning in Sept.-Oct. Some anomalous deviations of the sex ratio from a 50:50 expectation were shown. Birth weight was related to hind weight at rut time as was the subsequent daily rate of gain of the calf. Stag calves weighed more than hind calves and there was no effect of age of hind on birth weight once hind weight had been discounted. Mortality was divided into 2 components: perinatal mortality included stillbirths, deaths at parturition and during the 1st 24 h of life and an unidentified mortality representing failure to find a calf although the hind had calved. Postnatal mortality included all deaths from 24 h of life to weaning. Mortality was related to weight of calf at birth, being 100% for calves weighing less than 4.0 kg and declining to 5% for calves weighing 6.0-7.0 kg. The effects of hind size at rut time on her fertility, time at which she calves, birth weight and growth rate of her calf and its survival rate were combined to estimate the annual number of viable weaned calves and total weight of calves produced by herds of hinds of different weights. Increased hind weight of 50% (from 60-90 kg) results in a doubling of the number of calves born and surviving to Sept. and increased weight of the calf crop by 160%. Total calf mortality could be reduced to 7%.

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