Breeding Farmed White-Tailed Deer

Key breeding management issues for white-tailed deer producers include:

Does can be bred at one and half years of age and up. The average productive life of does is 10 years. The current production practice is to replace bucks after 5 years of breeding. (Bottle feeding of fawns can increase the productive life of does).

The breeding season (rut) takes place in the period from November to January in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The recommended practice is to run 1 buck with every 10 does.

Dr. James Kroll from the Institute for White-tailed Deer Management and Research has had very good success with artificial insemination. This is an option that deer producers should seriously consider.

The gestation period for white-tailed deer is in the range of 187 to 222 days. Undernourished does will have longer gestation periods. In Alberta and Saskatchewan, most fawns are born in May and June.

A high level of breeding performance is a fawning rate of 1.8 live fawns per doe and a weaning rate of 1.6 fawns per doe. (Bottle feeding can increase the weaning rate to about 2.0).

Assisting in the delivery of fawns is not practiced due to the nervous nature of the animal. (Does that have been bottle-raised can be assisted).

Producers who leave the antlers on their bucks for sale as hunt bucks will need to ensure the bucks have adequate space and separation. Most producers remove buck antlers in the fall to prevent injury.

If deer are being breed for antler size, aggressive culling must be practiced to remove inferior animals.

Mature bucks will weigh 250 to 270 pounds (110-120 kg) and have a carcass weight of 125 pounds (57 kg). Mature does will weigh 150 to 175 pounds (68-80 kg) and have a carcass weight of 88 pounds (40 kg).