Evaluation of growth and performance of white-tailed deer consuming different milk replacers
In recent years, the number of ranches in the state of Texas designated for the breeding and production of white-tailed deer has risen. As the number of ranches increases, it is important for there to be a quality milk alternative for fawns rejected by their mother, fawns that are too weak to nurse, or in the event that the mother is unable to produce a quality milk. The objective of this research was to evaluate growth and performance of white-tailed deer fawns on two commercially available milk replacers as well as to determine fawn preference for these milk replacers. A total of 51 fawns were utilized in this project with 26 fawns (n = 26) consuming the control and 25 fawns (n = 25) consuming the treatment. Shortly after birth fawns received a B-12 supplement, fawn paste, and an ear tag for identification purposes. At this time, initial morphological measurements were taken and a blood sample was drawn from the fawn. Growth measurements were taken every 3 weeks and included body weight, cannon bone length, leg length, body length, and heart girth circumference. Fawns were assigned a milk replacer on a rotational basis where they consumed that specific milk replacer for the entire trial, approximately 90 days. Consumption and refusals were measured at each feeding in a specific folder for each fawn. Upon completion of the trial results indicated that fawns consuming the control had statistically larger body weights, cannon bone length, and heart girth circumference measurements compared to the fawns consuming the treatment.