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Annual cycle of hinds

Upon reaching puberty at 16 months of age, the hind is capable of producing a single calf (rarely twins) annually. However, getting hinds to express their potential for high annual productivity requires considered management through the year based on an understanding of their reproductive cycle.

Key points

Adult hinds initiate ovulation and oestrus (‘heat’) in mid to late March in New Zealand.

Hinds are ‘hard-wired’ to begin ovulating in autumn, but it is possible through good nutritional and weaning management to optimise conceptions early in their season.

Gestation length, the interval between conception and birth, averages 233-234 days in red deer and 250 days in wapiti.

Timing of ovulation and the oestrous cycle
How can the timing of conceptions be advanced?
The pregnancy cycle and gestation length
Calving and lactation
What is the breeding life of hinds?

More resources

Asher, G.W., Fisher, M.W., McLeod, B.J., Berg, D.K. (1994) Reproductive physiology of cervids: a review. Proceedings of a Deer Course for Veterinarians. Deer Branch NZVA 11: 257-277.

Asher, G.W., Montfort, S.L., Wemmer, C. (1999) Comparative reproductive function in cervids: Implications for management of farm and zoo populations. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility Supplement 54: 143-156.

Scott, I.C., Asher, G.W., Archer, J.A., Littlejohn, R.P. (2008) The effect of conception date on gestation length of red deer (Cervus elaphus). Animal Reproduction Science 109: 206-217.

Asher, G.W. (2011) Reproductive cycles of deer. Animal Reproduction Science 124: 170-175.

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