Farmed red deer and wapiti crossbreds in NZ calve in early summer, from late October to early December. Most hinds within the herd will complete calving within a 3-week period, although there will typically be a few hinds conceiving at later oestrous cycles that calve over the next few weeks.
Peri-natal (around the time of birth) and post-natal (>24 hours after birth) mortality of calves is the single biggest source of reproductive wastage occurring on NZ deer farms, accounting for about 8% of calves born (see Reproductive Wastage). While it is recognised that there will always be losses around calving, there are ways to reduce overall calf mortality…often this just requires simple on-farm changes in management and calving environments.

A significant proportion of calf losses occur because the calving environment is suboptimal for the needs of all individuals within the herd.

Sometimes hinds experience difficulties during birthing which can lead to an inability to expel the calf…this is termed ‘dystocia’

The calving environment that is optimum for the calf may not be optimum for the hind.

Assignment of parentage (pedigree) to calves is important for genetic improvement programmes and is vital information for assigning Breeding Values (BV’s) in DEERSelect.

Virtually every aspect of the life of red deer and wapiti revolves around seasonal cycles that reflect their evolution in the hot summers and cold winters of northern continental regions.