Female deer have a long productive life but there is little information available on what effect pattern of growth from weaning to puberty have on subsequent reproductive performance. The objective of this experiment was to investigate the effect of a high level of nutrition for hind calves during their first winter on their potential life time productivity.
Sixty red deer hind calves born in May/June 1991 were weaned in mid September and on 3 October 1991 the hind calves were weighed and randomised into two treatments:
1. Ad lib silage plus appropriate level of compound supplement, from 4-10 months of age, to achieve moderate growth rate, and a bodyweight of 75-80kg by 16 months of age (M).
2. Ad lib all-compound ration, from 4-10 months of age, to achieve high growth rates (H).
The hinds were housed in pens measuring 4m x 5m in a randomised block design with three pen replicates of 10 calves per treatment. Precision chopped high quality silage (ME=10.6) was fed ad libitum in swing-over troughs to treatment M. A supplementary compound ration of 125g whole barley and 75g soya bean meal per hind was fed until 23 December and subsequently increased to 32Sg barley and 75g soya bean meal per hind. The all-compound ration to treatment H consisted of 80% whole barley and 20% soya bean meal (ME=13.3) and was fed twice daily.