News

This is the place to keep up to date with news of special events, culinary innovations and new arrivals among our herds of deer.

 

Calves born on the Farm

29.06.2022

Calving season started on 18th May! 

Our red, white and sika deer hinds have been giving birth to their calves since the first calf was born on 18th May. Since then we have had many red and white calves born and one sika calf.  The calving season starts in May and continues until the end of June for red and white deer and July for our sika deer. 

Deer hinds have a 7.5 month (232 days) pregnancy and keep the same diet whilst pregnant, their lean physique only changing with the growth of the unborn calf. Their behaviour throughout pregnancy stays much the same and they take the gestation in their stride.

Just before giving birth, a hind will take herself away from the herd and find somewhere quiet to give birth. 

When the calf is born, it will lie incredibly still and on its own for a week or two whilst it gains strength. This can look worrying as they don’t look alive and are often alone. You don’t have to worry, it’s completely normal and the mother will only go to the calf during the day for suckling until they are strong enough to join the herd.

Calves will be up and more active from a few days old to about two weeks old.⁠ Once they are upto spending most of their time with their mother and the herd, it is easier to spot them in the paddocks.  Our Rangers check on all our deer twice a day but will check on the calves and hinds more frequently during calving to ensure both are healthy. 

Nature is amazing and the natural instinct drives both calves and hinds behaviour. Whilst our deer and calves are safe from predators on the farm, their instinct to protect themselves are still as strong as if they were living in the wild. 

The mother will leave the calf during the day to avoid drawing attention to the newborn, only returning to feed. The calves are born with white spots, which they will keep until approximately 5 to 6 months old. The spots act as a camouflage, providing natural protection by breaking up their outline and allowing them to blend in with their surroundings.

Calves are also born without scent. The lack of scent also prevents predators from detecting them in the wild while they are more vulnerable. 

When you visit you may see the newborn and young calves hidden away in the longer grass and at the base of the trees along the fence lines. Although they are very cute, please refrain from touching them as this can interrupt the bond with their mother and cause mismothering. 

Depending on geographical location and climate, the calf may not wean itself naturally until 7 to 10 months old. At about 12 months old, the young hinds, now yearlings, will stay with their mum or yearling groups, while the younger stags will go in search of bachelor groups.

On the farm, our deer calves can be definitively sexed when they come into the shed for weaning in September (pre-rut weaning) or November (post-rut weaning). The first signs of antlers start to appear on the stags in early winter when they are approximately 8 months old.

Red deer calf lying in grass by tree protection posts at Sky Park Farm

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