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Old 01-24-2003, 06:42 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: seminole al USA
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Default deer lactation cycle

I am trying to find information on why we need to know if does are lactating or not and what these statistics mean...
My husband and I recently joined a hunting club in southern Alabama and are very confused about the whitetails who seem to go through rut from November to February, so the fawns vary in age and the does go into estrous when they please. One 65-lb doe, with a fawn and lactating...two weeks latter a 70-lb doe, no young, in estrous, not lactating. Any real input?
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Old 01-25-2003, 11:39 AM   #2
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Default RE: deer lactation cycle

Welcome to the board! Always nice to see another woman join our ranks. Hope this information answers your question.

Lactation is a fancy term for whether a doe is “in milk” or not. Again, this is fairly self–explanatory, but again it can be difficult. This information is important because it provides evidence that a doe gave birth and successfully raised one or more fawns. The percentage of adult does (2.5 years old or older) lactating in a given year provides an estimate of the reproductive health of the herd and the number of fawns that were recruited into hunting population. In most areas of the U.S., a lactation rate of 70–80 percent or higher for adult does is considered good. The actual lactation rate is generally higher, but does that gave birth early and/or weaned their fawns early often are recorded as “dry” when harvested during the season. In the northern and midwestern portions of the whitetail’s range, a moderate to high percentage of yearling does may be lactating during the hunting season indicating that they bred as fawns. This is a very healthy situation, albeit somewhat rare in the South due to high deer populations and lower quality nutrition.

To check for lactation, simply squeeze the doe’s mammary glands. However, this will not always provide evidence of lactation. You may need to slice into the milk bag with your knife and see if any yellowish to brownish material is present. If the doe is drying–up, but was obviously producing milk earlier, then the answer is, “Yes, the doe is lactating.”

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Old 01-25-2003, 12:38 PM   #3
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Old 01-27-2003, 08:19 PM   #4
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Default RE: deer lactation cycle

Welcome to the board. It is very common to find spotted fawns during Nov. and Dec. in South Bama. One of my friends said he saw two about a week ago. Too many deer is most likely the problem. While the peak of the rut for us is the last two weeks of Jan. you will see scrapes even in late March and they must breed some in the summer.

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Old 12-28-2016, 03:14 AM   #5
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Default Sorry the thread is very old....

But I shot a deer that was lactating last weekend, which was odd to me. I didn't know that could occur in the winter. I knew it was CALLED "lactating", then I stumbled on this post. In which a semi-literate person from West Virginia was kind enough to let me know that "lactating" is just a "fancy" term for "in milk"! Thanks for that, I feel dumber already. And thanks for making rednecks everywhere look like home schooled idiots. Haha.

Hooo eeee! Thanks for letting me know what that "fancy" term means Christine! Any more fancy terms you can fill me in on?

Last edited by jimmy762; 12-28-2016 at 03:17 AM.
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Old 12-28-2016, 05:55 AM   #6
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I have shot doe in December that still had milk in the udder. Their fawns were no longer drinking and on solid food but they had not dried up yet. Fawns will continue to drink milk in small amounts even after they are able to live on solid food which they will start to eat at two weeks of age, it is a bonding thing with the doe, although their digestive system is not yet developed to the point where they can survive without milk, it is a bonding thing with the doe. When the doe has enough of the large fawns nursing she will no longer allow them to do so and begin to dry up. I have seen while hunting large fawns attempting to drink from the doe and get a kick for their efforts.
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