Pre-mating & weaning

Pre-mating & weaning

Deer mate in autumn. If calves are weaned before mating, at three to four months old, there are only a few weeks for hinds to recover some of the body weight lost during lactation before they mate again. This may affect their conception rate – hinds with a Body Condition Score) ('BCS') of less than 3 will conceive about five days later than hinds with a BCS over 4. The earlier hinds mate the better, so they should be fed well before mating. After mating, pregnant hinds can be fed to just maintain body weight – and then given supplementary feed just before giving birth.

Key points:

  • Hinds need to be in good condition (BCS ≥ 3) before mating.
  • However it is important to recognise that both lactation and the influence of declining pasture quality and quantity will make increasing hind condition before mating difficult.
  • Supplementation with high quality feed may be needed especially when the season is difficult (drought or wet conditions). If possible identify hinds in poor condition before mating and feed preferentially to improve BCS. At this time a poor condition hind may also prompt a review of her general health, teeth wear and age.