Effects of Early-Weaning on Captive White-tailed Deer Fawns

The welfare of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawns orphaned during an early doe harvest is of management interest when the hunting and fawning seasons are temporally close. A 2-year study on early-weaned, captive white-tailed deer fawns was conducted to evaluate potential effects of early orphaning on growth and survival. Comparisons were made between survival of 60-day-old weaned fawns (TV = 28), 90-day-old weaned fawns (N = 21), and control fawns left with their does (N = 21). No significant differences were found between survival rates in 1994 (P = 0.68) and 1995 (P = 1.00). There were no significant differences between groups for any growth measurement at 7 months of age. These data demonstrate fawns orphaned at >60 days of age are capable of normal development with proper nutrition.

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