Stag health

Stag health

Velveting Post-velveting problems
Prepare in advance for velveting.Record books, drugs, equipment, facilities, storage, vet visits and/or drug dispensing.Review velvet grading and the most appropriate time to harvest. Cutting first cut antlers early can increase the amount of regrowth. Post-xylazine deaths occur in about 1/1000 stags.Some farms have a lot more deaths than others.All deer have reduced oxygen exchange when given xylazine.ID any stag that reacts to xylazine. Any stag having difficulty breathing should be velveted as quickly as possible and given a full dose of reversal immediately.Avoid post-velveting pneumonia by having a clean velveting pen, allowing enough space for stags to have their heads clear. Use as low dose as safe for your stags. Standing sedation is preferable if safe.There are fewer problems in stags that are velveting in a crush without sedation.
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Tick risk Dehydration
Avoid tick habitats (humid, rushes, scrub, swampy) for velveting stags.Check antlers early in season.Treat infected stock with Bayticol .Tick control starts in spring Stags are particularly susceptible to dehydration in the summer.Ensure troughs are working daily, natural water sources have adequate water.Ensure troughs are working daily, natural water sources have adequate water
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Join stags with yearling hinds Separate breeding stags
Yearling stags can be joined with yearling hinds from January or earlier.Yearling stags should be used at a ratio 1:10 and should be in excellent health and well grown to ensure puberty.Older stags can be used at 1:15. A long socialisation time prior to mating may help conception Remove sire stags from velveting mob and preferentially feed to prepare for mating and avoid social issues.
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Regrowth velvet removal Spiker hard antler
Remove regrowth for sale and to prevent injury. Remove hard antler from spikers for transport and to prevent injury.After antlers are completely stripped, no analgesia is required
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Leptospirosis booster Stag testing
Leptospirosis may cause disease or abortion in deer and can cause serious disease in humans exposed to the urine of infected animals.The main risk period for leptospirosis transmission is during a wet autumn and winter.Wallows may provide an ideal transmission site between animals.Vaccination prevents shedding of leptospires in the urine and reduces transmission of the disease in the herd.The vaccine probably provides less than 12 months protection so boosters are required Stags should be in peak physical condition and not lame prior to the breeding season. Semen samples can only be checked once the stag starts rutting (late Feb). Poor samples are produced before this time. Semen is collected by electroejaculation. Semen can also be cultured for Brucella ovis and other bugs.Stags can be examined for injuries, structural problems or ulcers on the penis and prepuce. Testing stags in February requires heavy sedation.Social problems can only be identified through observation. Libido is indicated by rutting behaviour.
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Join stags with MA hinds Monitor during rut
Red hinds start cycling about mid March. Early joining induces early cycling in well fed hinds.Joining on or before 1 March maximises chance of early cycling and can advance calving dates.Joining early allows more time for socialisation and settling but there is risk of stag fatigue.Most MA hinds conceive last week March/1st week April. Have best stags in at that time. Most hinds conceive on their first oestrus of the season. Fallow deer have a silent ovulation. Watch for:Lameness, especially of the hind legs,Staying near the gate/sulking, especially in wapiti bulls,Too much or too little weight loss,Roaring, wallowing, thrashing, chasing hinds. Actual mating is sometimes seen.If in doubt about a stag, change it or add a backup stag.
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Back-up stag Stag removal
Changing stags decreases the risk of poor conception due to infertile, injured or sulky stags.Single sire mating groups - Change stag.Multiple-sire mating groups - remove dominant stag.Allow at least 18 (red hinds) or 21 (wapiti cows) 22 (fallow) days before the end of mating for all hinds to cycle at least once with the backup stag.Best stag should be with the hinds in last week March/1st week April.Replace stag earlier if suspicious about the primary stag.If using AI the backup should go in 7 days after AI to allow differentiation by fetal aging by ultrasound Depends on latest calving date desired.Red hinds mated to red stags gestation = 230-235 days. 5th May removal = last calf Christmas day.Wapiti hinds mated wapiti stags gestation = 245-250 days. Removal 5th May = last calf 7 January.Hybrids somewhere between red and wapiti.Is there a lot of late mating activity? Trade-off, empty hinds vs late born calves.
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Post rut BCS/Drench Fading Elk Syndrome
Body Condition Score stags post rut.Drench wapiti bulls and poor condition red stags with  a drench suitable for your farm. E.g.Combination of albendazole and fenbendazole (White drenches)Combination of ivermectin injection or oral (double dose) and albendazole oral (double dose)Moxidectin injection,These are just examples, you should consult your parasitologist or vet for a drenching programme specific to your farm including off-label use and with-holding times.Drenching before winter may help prevent hypobiotic stomach worms entering hibernation and leading to fading elk disease Stags and hinds over 2 years during autumn and winter. Wapiti/Elk are more susceptible than red deer.Probably caused by parasites in the wall of the abomasum. Secondary nutritional disturbances.Shows up as wasting, vacant, disinterested behaviour and strange gait. Animals don’t respond to treatments and there may be a scour.Difficult to treat. Moxidectin injection best option, good nutrition. Check copper status. Best to prevent by drenching in Autumn pre and/or post rut and other parasite management measures.
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MCF risk Johne’s disease
Malignant cattharal fever is caused by a herpesvirus shed from normal sheep. No disease is seen in sheep and it is shed in greater amounts at lambing or times of stress.MCF is fatal to susceptible deer after clinical signs are seen,Some deer appear to be more susceptible than others. Action taken should depend on the history of the animals on the property. Deer of all ages are susceptible but adult stags post-rut may be most at risk,Avoid grazing susceptible stock near ewes Johne’s disease is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis.Signs of Johne’s include wasting and diarrhoea,Johne’s case are most common in the winter,Adult animals with Johne’s diarrhoea shed large numbers of bacteria that contaminate the environment for susceptible young stock.Adults deer with diarrhoea should be removed and tested or culled ASAP.Some lines of deer may be more susceptible to Johne’s disease than other lines. There may be genetic resistance. Management depends on farm history.Johne’s Management Limited has vets available to help with Johne’s control on an individual farm basis
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Copper supplement if needed Lungworm - stressed adults
Copper deficiency causes swayback in hinds after fawning, swollen joints, broken limbs and lameness in new fawns and reduced velvet growth and potentially swayback in stags.Pasture copper levels are lowest during winter and animal body reserves are lowest during spring.Pasture copper levels are lowest during winter and animal body reserves are lowest during spring.Ensuring adequate levels in pregnant hinds will protect the fawns,Tissue copper needs to be very low to cause problems.It is unlikely that a response to supplementation will be seen if tissue levels are marginal or better during spring,Copper is toxic if too much is given and is toxic to many bacteria and fungi.Fertilizer application is not guaranteed to lift animal levels especially when molybdenum and sulfur and soil pH are high.Copper supplements last a variable period of time from weeks to months depending on the farm and supplement used. They should be given close to the risk period (Spring). Intraruminal boluses and injections increase copper significantly and prevent deficiency for several months. Water treatments and copper sulphate drenches increase levels for a shorter time period.Copper supplementation should be based on farm history, blood or liver test results and farm finances. Lungworm usually causes disease in young deer during late summer and autumn. Adult deer have good immunity to lungworm,Overwhelming infection can occur when adult deer are stress and immunosupressed.Severe malnutrition, mineral deficiency, extreme weather conditions, social factors, old age or concurrent diseases such as chronic gastrointestinal parasitism or Johne’s disease may predispose to lungworm. Deer with wapiti genetics may be more susceptible.Lungworm is easily treated and prevent by anthelmintics. This should be considered after weaning only in hinds or stags that are at high risk.Preventing stress and other risk factors should mean adult stock do not require treatment for lungworm
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Winter lean weight Button drop
Weighing in late winter will provide information about lowest weights and provide a benchmark for measuring weight recovery.Target winter lean weight should be >75% pre-rut weight in stags. Buttons should be cast in August for mature stags and later for younger stags. Button drop date can be used for mobbing velvet stags.Occasionally buttons fail to cast prior to growth of the new antler. These should be removed if possible. 
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Priority feed for velvet growth and condition recovery Mob velvet stags
Nutrition during spring has an effect on antler weight and grade at velvet harvest time  For management it is advisable to mob stags based on expected velveting date and age.This will reduce the number of times that stag mobs have to be brought into the yards risking damaged antlers.Mobs can be fed more appropriately,Social issues may be reduced 
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Parapox monitoring and control  
Parapox is caused by a deer specific pox virus. It can cause serious lesions and loss of antler and sores on humans resembling orf. Parapox can also affect fawns around the mouth and face and interfere with suckling.Pox virus is shed from blisters and scabs and gains entry through small abrasions,Pox infection is usually worse when thistles are abundant,Young stags are more susceptible than older stags and natural exposure probably provides life-long immunity.Pox infected antler should be harvested and destroyed, regrowth is usually unaffected. Yearling stags can be put in paddocks that have had pox outbreak to cause natural exposure and immunity. Infected antlers can be thrown into the paddock as well.