Why undertake pregnancy diagnosis in deer?
The principal reason for conducting pregnancy diagnosis in farmed deer herds is to make informed decisions about hind culling.  Farmers generally prefer to cull hinds primarily on reproductive productivity. Non-pregnant (‘dry’) hinds are often drafted for slaughter before the onset of winter, thus reducing herd feeding costs on non-productive animals.

However, pregnancy diagnosis can also serve other purposes:

  • ensuring that in-calf sale hinds are indeed pregnant;
  • measuring the success of artificial insemination (AI); and
  • allocation of hinds to calving groups based on expected calving date. Repeated scanning can be used to check for abortions.

Show me the science
Bingham, C.M., Wilson, P.R., Davies, A.S. (1988) Real-time ultrasonic scanning for estimation of foetal age in farmed red deer. Proceedings of a Deer Course for Veterinarians. Deer Branch NZVA 5: 41-54.

Revol, B., Wilson, P.R. (1989) Ultrasonographic pregnancy diagnosis in red deer. Proceedings of a Deer Course for Veterinarians. Deer Branch NZVA 6:36-54.

Lawrence, D.W., Linney, L. (1998) Utilising data from ultrasound scanning for pregnancy NZVA Deer Branch Conf. Proceedings Vol15/61-64

Scanning a valuable tool, G Asher, Popular Deer Industry News article (2003)

Information on best practice pregnancy scanning is available in a convenient DINZ Deer Fact sheet. Print off your own copy here >>

The most reliable method of pregnancy diagnosis in hinds is real-time ultrasound scanning.

Foetal ageing involves assessing the age of the scanned foetus, and thus determining its conception date by back-calculation from scanning date.

This manual is a pictorial presentation of actual images of known-age red deer foetuses from 20 to 80 days of age. The images were obtained using a BCF Easi-Scan real time scanner fitted with a 5 MHz linear array rectal transducer. Mode selection was set at ‘Ovary/Early Pregnancy’ and the grid display was set at 1 cm.