Aging Fetal White-Tailed Deer

Reproductive performance was monitored in a captive herd of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus virginianus) at the Dennis Wildlife Center in Bonneau, South Carolina, from 1980-84. Sixty-four known-age fetuses, including 25 sets of twins, were obtained from 39 does that were 1.5-3.5 years old when bred. Fetuses were obtained at weekly intervals from 5-27 weeks. Weights and a series of standard measurements were recorded from all fetuses. The relationship between each measured parameter and fetal age in days through gestation was linear (r2 = 0.84-0.99, P < 0.001). A key to fetal development was constructed using weights, measurements, and morphological characteristics.

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