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The influence of the stag on pubertal development in the red deer hind

  • M. W. Fisher (a1), L. M. Meikle (a1) and P. D. Johnstone (a1)

Abstract

The possible influence of social factors on the timing of puberty in the hind was investigated utilizing seasonally advanced (melatonin-treated) hinds and stags. Melatonin treatment of both sexes resulted in a significant advancement in the onset of pubertal ovarian activity (26 days, P < 0·001) and calving (27 days, P < 0·001) in the treated hinds and antler casting (25 days, P < 0·001) in the treated stags. Ovarian activity and calving were not influenced by melatonin treatment of the stags alone and similarly, antler casting was not affected by melatonin treatment of the hinds alone. However, a group of hinds without stags until after the onset of the breeding season, reached puberty later (5 days, P < 0·05) than hinds with stags, suggesting the presence of the male is important in determining the timing of puberty.

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