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#3050976 - 11/27/12 06:29 AM Sterile does?
hcdeerman
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Registered: 09/20/11
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Loc: Hardin County

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Since I have been on a doe thinning mission this season, I have come to take notice of something. In my area, many does still have fawns this time of year and have killed a couple who appeared to still be nursing when I field dressed them. On the contrary, I have killed 4 does for sure that were not nursing and didnt appear to have nursed at all recently (if ever). They were all healthy, mature does in the 85-100lb range. Were these does simply unbred from last year or could they be sterile?
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#3051065 - 11/27/12 07:42 AM Re: Sterile does? [Re: hcdeerman]
BSK
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hcdeerman,

What you are noticing is a very important indicator of local herd health, and that data is tracked carefully in big management programs. What you have been noticing is biologically termed the "doe lactation rate." The doe lactation rate is the percent of does that are still lactating (have milk in their udders) in fall. This is usually limited to only does that are 2 1/2 years old or older when they are killed during the fall hunting season (because 1 1/2 year-old does in fall were only fawns the previous rut). In a very healthy deer herd, nearly all 2 1/2 year-old does will still be lactating in fall. This means they all produced surviving fawns. If it is found that a significant percentage of 2 1/2+ year-old does are NOT lactating in fall, this indicates some sort of problem with the herd, either a herd health issue or a predation issue (fawns are being killed by predators soon after birth).

When managing local deer herds, I want to see 90+% lactation of 2 1/2+ year-old does. I consider anything below 80% lactation to be the signs of a problem. Anything below 60% is usually the signs of a serious problem.
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#3051077 - 11/27/12 07:51 AM Re: Sterile does? [Re: BSK]
Winchester
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There you have it. Well said BSK
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#3051961 - 11/27/12 04:41 PM Re: Sterile does? [Re: Winchester]
hcdeerman
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Registered: 09/20/11
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Thank you very much, BSK. Predation could very well be a problem due to coyotes and feral dogs in my area. As for the potential herd health problem, how would I address it?
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#3052841 - 11/28/12 07:11 AM Re: Sterile does? [Re: hcdeerman]
BSK
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Registered: 03/11/99
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 Originally Posted By: hcdeerman
Thank you very much, BSK. Predation could very well be a problem due to coyotes and feral dogs in my area. As for the potential herd health problem, how would I address it?


First you have to track doe lactation rates over a number of years to find out if poor lactation is a trend. If it is, then you need to assess other indicators of herd health, such as body weights by age, antler production in bucks by age, and a number of other factors. If all other indicators of herd health suggest good health, then the low lactation rates can be primarily attributed to predators killing newborn fawns.
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"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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