Young stock (R1)

Young stock (R1)

Information on Growing weaners for the spring venison market is available in a convenient DINZ Deer Fact sheet. Print off your own copy here >>

View the DEERFeed - calculator here

DEERFeed is a simple calculator that uses the hind weight and the calf weaning weight and days to weaning to calculate total feed requirements of the hind or hind/calf pair to meet the liveweight targets set. 

DEERFeed also calculates the requirements of growing weaners. Weaner feed requirements are calculated based on size and gender.

Autumn to winter

Autumn management is important for maintaining the growth rate targets of young stock and enabling farmers to meet venison production schedules and good life time reproductive performance. The weaning decision has an impact as management of feed quality and diet change on farm through weaning can help maintain growth rates. Weaning young stock back on to feed they are used to can help reduce any potential check in growth rates.

At weaning stag fawns are heavier than hinds (2-5 kg) as a result of heavier birth weight and greater live weight gain over lactation. 

The live weight at 1 June is an important benchmark for farmers as it is a good indicator of the animal’s potential slaughter weight/date or 12 month weight. From a management perspective weight gain between weaning and June 1 should be maximised as growth rates are low over winter and the next opportunity for good growth rates is early spring.  

To achieve 150 g/day+ post weaning  

  • Feed quality > 11.5 MJ ME/kg
  • A green leaf content > 90%

Winter
In winter, (June and July), the potential for weaner growth is lowest from about 40-145g/day depending on the amount of feed offered (pasture allowance) and the residual. Weaners with elk genetics will continue to grow at a faster rate in winter than red weaners. To achieve higher growth rates, over 100g/day, the allowance has to be very high and of high quality (at least 8kgDM/hd or a post grazing height of 10-12cm). In practice on farm this is difficult to achieve and may compromise other stock.

Farmers can target maintenance requirements from pasture with additional supplements such as hay, silage or baleage (ME 10.5) if required. Lower feed allowances of 4-5kg DM/hd day target liveweight gains of about 80g/day. Research has shown there is a low response in live weight gain to high levels of winter feeding ie with costly supplements.

Spring to summer
Towards the end of winter the weaner will respond to increasing day length (Aug 10-20th) and therefore will respond to increasing feed quality and quantity so high quality silage and grain can be fed to supplement late winter pasture. From mid August onwards young stock should be offered high pasture allowances (leaving 8cm of pasture post grazing) to capture the benefit of the high potential liveweight gain in spring. Live weight gain in spring is about 4-6 times higher than in winter.

  • R1 year weaners require high quality and high pasture allowance (8-10 kgDM/hd/day) in spring to ensure they reach good slaughter weights. 
  • Hybrid weaners require higher allowances than red deer to achieve maximum live weight gain. 
  • Young hinds need to be fed well to achieve puberty and good conception weights. R2 hinds need to reach target live weights, depending on genotype, well before mating. (See Puberty in hinds for further detail)