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The deer farming year

Like their wild cousins, deer are highly seasonal in their growth and breeding cycles. This reflects the long cold winters and short moist summers of the northern hemisphere regions where deer evolved. Cattle and sheep evolved elsewhere and have been modified by centuries of farmer selection, making them less seasonal in their behaviour. Because their management and feed requirements fall at different times, the three species can be integrated well on a mixed farm, especially where there is strong pasture growth during summer. 


  • Fawning or ‘calving’ begins
  • Stags velvetted
  • Surplus pasture harvested as hay or silage for winter feeding and to maintain pasture quality for hinds during lactation


  • Fawning
  • Quality feed preferentially offered to hinds and fawns
  • Breeding stag sales
  • Stags velvetted
  • Yearlings drafted for slaughter as they reach target weights (continues until May for females)


  • Stags velvetted
  • Breeding stag sales
  • Hinds and fawns may be supplemented with hay or silage to maintain health, lactation and growth in periods of drought
  • Stag sale season


  • Last drafts of males go to slaughter until after the rut
  • Hinds and fawns preferentially fed for growth


  • Pre-rut weaning (some herds wean post-rut)
  • Weaners vaccinated
  • Surplus hinds drafted for slaughter
  • ‘Roar’ begins
  • Selected stags joined with hinds for mating


  • ‘Roar’ and mating continues
  • Weaners preferentially fed and familiarised with health and management routines and handling


  • Stags removed from hinds and preferentially fed to recover condition lost during the rut
  • Post-rut weaning


  • Pregnancy scanning
  • Hinds and stags fed on winter forage crops in colder regions


  • Non-pregnant hinds sent for slaughter
  • Hinds and stags fed on winter forage crops in colder regions


  • First kill of largest new season animals (8 months old)
  • Mature stags start casting their antlers/dropping buttons and begin new antler growth


  • Peak of chilled venison season
  • Venison animals sent for slaughter as they reach target weights (ongoing)


  • Chilled venison season continues to the end of October or early November, depending on the season
  • Velvetting begins
  • Hinds put into their fawning paddocks

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