Dyllan Deer Control Group

 

 

 

Fallow Deer

 

Aim

The aim of this guide is to provide
information on aspects of the
ecology and behaviour of fallow
deer to aid in the management of
this species.‡ Fallow are a naturalised
non-indigenous species, having been
introduced to Britain in the middle ages.


Social structure

The size of groups and the degree of sexual
segregation will depend on population density and
habitat. In woodland, for most of the year bucks and
does generally remain in separate single-sex herds,
grouping together from October to December on
traditional rutting stands. In agricultural habitats,
however, bucks and does may mix freely throughout
the year.


Body condition changes

Large bucks may stop feeding completely during
the rut and will lose condition as a result, whereas
younger bucks hanging around on the fringes will
continue to eat as normal.


from about 3 years old, bucks grow flattened palmate antlerswhich increase in size with age, up to 70 cm in length. Notethe range of coat colour variation within the herd.

doe in winter
coat. Coat
colour is the
‘common’
colour
variation; note
characteristic
black
horseshoe
around tail.

Does
BreedingSingle fawn: Born during June and the first week ofJuly. Exceptionally twins born.
Productivity: In favourable areas most yearlingdoes breed. A fawn produced annually thereafter.
Weaning: Of fawns at 4 months. Fawns may
continue to suckle beyond this period but are notdependent on milk.
Behaviour: Hinds break away from single-sexherds to give birth. During the first month or sothe fawn will be left alone, the mother returningperiodically to feed it, until the fawn can follow theherd.
Vocalisation: With fallow the doe is the more
vocal of the sexes. Does with fawns give a shortbark as an alarm call. She will also use a variety ofsqueaks and bleats to communicate with her fawnthroughout the year.
Shoulder height: 73 - 91 cm.
Bucks
Antler developmentFallow are the only British deer with palmate antlers
in mature bucks.
End Apr: Mature, well-conditioned bucks cast
antlers.
May – Jun: Yearling bucks (prickets) cast.
Aug: Mature bucks are first to clean velvet from
antlers.
End Sept: All bucks, including prickets, should beclean of velvet.
MatingBucks may display a variety of rutting behaviours.
Bucks may defend a rutting stand which is usedto attract females and which is marked out bythrashing trees, wallowing and scrape marking.
Bucks advertise their presence by constantly movingaround in the area of the stand whilst groaning.
The same rutting stands may be used each year.
Alternatively, in areas with high numbers of females,
bucks may go in search of groups of does or theymay congregate with other bucks at leks.
Shoulder height: 84-94 cm.
©DCS 2008

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* See BPG Woodland Damage: Recognition of Cause
Patterns of activity
Habitat and range
Fallow are generally not territorial but have a ‘home
range’. Within the home range will be areas that are
more frequented than others and associated paths
will become apparent. Fallow prefer deciduous
or mixed woodlands with a well-established
understorey. They can also utilise moorland around
the woodland fringe. Herds frequently forage from
woodlands onto agricultural land. Some populations
thrive in habitats predominated by agricultural land
but incorporating small woods and copses.
Feeding
Preferential grazers of grasses and herbs although
trees and dwarf shrub shoots (e.g. heather, conifer,
holly and bramble) will be taken during autumn and
winter. During the autumn acorns, fruits, nuts and
fungi also make up their diet.
Daily movements
Fallow are most active at dawn and dusk but frequent
disturbance may result in deer making more use of
open spaces during the night. In between feeding
bouts, fallow lie up in some undisturbed place to
ruminate and chew the cud.
Seasonal movements
Dec to Sep: Bucks and does generally remain in
separate single-sex herds utilising different parts of
range. The availability of arable crops often influences
range use which may help deer managers predict
local fallow herd movements.
Response to weather
Fallow do not like strong winds or driving rain and
will seek shelter. If the sun appears following periods
of heavy rain they tend to move back out into the
open.
During periods of prolonged snow cover, fallow
become more restricted to sheltered woodland
offering good browse and hardwood bark. During a
thaw affecting snow-laden conifer woodlands, fallow
often move out into the open to avoid the dripping
trees.
During extended periods of hard frost, fallow tend
to feed on areas benefiting from the sun’s heat. This
frequently results in increased movement during the
warmest parts of the day.
Response to humans
Deer quickly learn to recognise and respond to
human behaviour and sounds that they associate with
danger.
Fallow are generally extremely wary and are
suspicious of strange objects or changes within their
surroundings.
Damage
Browse damage to trees* and shrubs may increase
during spring and early summer.
Fallow may damage growing cereal crops. Some
fraying damage may occur at rutting stands. Fallow
can and do damage root crops during the autumn and
early winter.
‡Ensure you are familiar with the annual cycle of both males andfemales to ensure that management activities do not compromiseanimal welfare. For example be particularly aware of times of the
year when: •Females may have calves at foot •Offspring may be
dependent •Non-target animals may be in poor condition and beaffected by disturbance.
(right) fawn with menilcoat colour.
(far right) menil (left) andmelanistic (right) colourvariations. The menil
variety is paler than the‘common’ variety, lacks
the distinctive black
bordered rump and retainswhite spots all year.
©DCS 2008
Fawns
Social DependencyFawns frequently remain with their mother as
yearlings, learning her home range during thisperiod.
* See BPG Woodland Damage: Recognition of Cause
Patterns of activity
Habitat and range
Fallow are generally not territorial but have a ‘home
range’. Within the home range will be areas that are
more frequented than others and associated paths
will become apparent. Fallow prefer deciduous
or mixed woodlands with a well-established
understorey. They can also utilise moorland around
the woodland fringe. Herds frequently forage from
woodlands onto agricultural land. Some populations
thrive in habitats predominated by agricultural land
but incorporating small woods and copses.
Feeding
Preferential grazers of grasses and herbs although
trees and dwarf shrub shoots (e.g. heather, conifer,
holly and bramble) will be taken during autumn and
winter. During the autumn acorns, fruits, nuts and
fungi also make up their diet.
Daily movements
Fallow are most active at dawn and dusk but frequent
disturbance may result in deer making more use of
open spaces during the night. In between feeding
bouts, fallow lie up in some undisturbed place to
ruminate and chew the cud.
Seasonal movements
Dec to Sep: Bucks and does generally remain in
separate single-sex herds utilising different parts of
range. The availability of arable crops often influences
range use which may help deer managers predict
local fallow herd movements.
Response to weather
Fallow do not like strong winds or driving rain and
will seek shelter. If the sun appears following periods
of heavy rain they tend to move back out into the
open.
During periods of prolonged snow cover, fallow
become more restricted to sheltered woodland
offering good browse and hardwood bark. During a
thaw affecting snow-laden conifer woodlands, fallow
often move out into the open to avoid the dripping
trees.
During extended periods of hard frost, fallow tend
to feed on areas benefiting from the sun’s heat. This
frequently results in increased movement during the
warmest parts of the day.
Response to humans
Deer quickly learn to recognise and respond to
human behaviour and sounds that they associate with
danger.
Fallow are generally extremely wary and are
suspicious of strange objects or changes within their
surroundings.
Damage
Browse damage to trees* and shrubs may increase
during spring and early summer.
Fallow may damage growing cereal crops. Some
fraying damage may occur at rutting stands. Fallow
can and do damage root crops during the autumn and
early winter.
‡Ensure you are familiar with the annual cycle of both males andfemales to ensure that management activities do not compromiseanimal welfare. For example be particularly aware of times of the
year when: •Females may have calves at foot •Offspring may be
dependent •Non-target animals may be in poor condition and beaffected by disturbance.
(right) fawn with menilcoat colour.
(far right) menil (left) andmelanistic (right) colourvariations. The menil
variety is paler than the‘common’ variety, lacks
the distinctive black
bordered rump and retainswhite spots all year.
©DCS 2008
Fawns
Social DependencyFawns frequently remain with their mother as
yearlings, learning her home range during thisperiod.
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