Deer farming

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In Poland the cervids which are kept on a stock-farm have been acknowledged farm animals by the power of The Husbandry Organisation and the Reproduction of Farm Animals Law . This enabled both: a regular stock-farming of 2 species of that family that does not require any special permits and their progressive domestication.

The deer is one of the two species of the family Cervidae adapted for the husbandry, the other one is the fallow deer. Stags weigh from 150 up to 350 kg, hinds 100-180 kg. High differences in the weight within the species result from different ecotypes shaped by regional environmental conditions. Therefore the Red Scottish deer is characterised by a lower body mass whereas the Bieszczady (Polish mountains) or Hungarian deer's body mass is definitely higher.

One of the directions of production of a deer stock-farm is the husbandry of high quality breeding material for sales to stock farms. A full documentation is prepared and a complete identification of animals and covering by only selected stags are carried out. The other direction is the production of high quality venison on stock farms. Mostly young animals, offering utmost quality of meat, are slaughtered. Such sort of farming is out of the game-law therefore fresh meat can be delivered all year long. A by-direction of production is the annual gain of antlers as well as high quality fells. A precious direction of production on Asian markets is a husbandry of velvet.

The cervids are kept on enclosed grass-lands. Summer pasturage plots should offer the best quality of grass, therefore a special attention to its proper maintainace needs to be put. Afforestations are additional and desired elements offering a shelter from wind and some shadow, though they are not necessary. Water reservoirs can be an interesting element but they are not a must as water can be easily delivered in containers. The stock per 1 ha depends on the quality of a pasture and can be from 3 to 8 animals. Ideally the whole pasture should be divided into lesser paddocks, thus ensuring pasturage always on fresh grass regrowth. The plot should not be smaller than 1 ha. It is common that winter pasturage plots are smaller than the summer and offer more afforestation as a good shelter from wind. Apart from the pasture plots, the farm should have collective plots, driving corridors, and a manipulation pen, which is a must on each stud or stock farm. It enables the following operations: segregation of animals, separation of calves, ear-tagging, antler trimming, veterinary interventions, weighing, loading. A hydraulic deer handler- crush can be useful for all those activities as it offers you an inoffensive way to temporarily transfix the animal.

Feeding in summertime is based on a pasture. Regular maintainance of the pasture is necessary (such operations as fertilization, mowing of grass left-over, restoring and enriching the green growth). As summer droughts have become more common additional feeding with hay silage can be recommened. Wintertime feeding is based on fine quality hay, hay silage, maize silage and crops (oat, maize, barley). Juicy bulky fodder can be an additive (beetroot, carrot, apple, pear). Mineral deer-licks need to be available all year long (they're necessary to make up shortages of selenium and manganese to which deer are very sensitive). The most important principle in the feeding of deer is a gradual changement of the fodder type due to a specific physiology of ruminants' digestive tract.

The mating season of the deer in Poland is in September and October. There are around 30-50 hinds for one stag. A hind, after 236 days of pregnancy delivers one calf in May and June (multiple pregancies are a very rare phenomenon). The calf should be separated from the hind before winter. This enables individual feeding as well as improves the condition of both: the hinds and calves.

The cervids are healthy animals. Regular deworming is a basic veterinary operation, best if made twice a year. Most common diseases haunting the cervids are related with the diseases of their digestive tract and usually results from the mistakes in nourishment. Such injuries as sores, broken members or neck breakings are much more frequent.