2010-05-07 / General Stories

Fawn Production and Abandoned Fawns

It is approaching that time of year when you should start seeing whitetails fawns popping up. An adult doe in excellent habitat will normally have 2 fawns in late spring. These fawns are typically kept some distance apart and are hidden in tall grass if available. Fawns have little scent and will remain hidden if supplied with sufficient milk. When they become 4 or 5 weeks old they will begin to follow the doe. Fawns are usually weaned between 4 and 6 months old.

Most doe fawns will reach 6 months of age while the rut is in progress. With adequate nutrition as many as two-thirds of the doe many as two-thirds of the doe fawns have been known to breed. If bred, doe fawns usually have only one fawn. Under less than optimal conditions or where deer are competing heavily with livestock or other deer, less than 10% of doe fawns will breed and adult does often will have only one fawn.

The number of deer, quality of habitat, degree of livestock competition and weather are common factors in determining the health of a fawn. If these factors are not favorable the fawn will not be born healthy and the doe will not supply enough milk. The fawn then may succumb to exposure and disease, or wander from its hiding place and be killed by predators.

Because of poor habitat management that results in improper nutrition and lack of tall grass cover, fawn production in our area typically averages less than 40 %. In other words only 1 fawn is raised per 3 does. This low production is unnecessary. With proper habitat management, addressing the food and tall grass cover requirements, the fawn production can be increased to near 100%.

It is very important that during the time period when fawns are on the ground to keep an eye out for them on the road and when shredding or mowing hay. If it is possible, hold off shredding fields until mid-July to provide cover for does to hide their fawns. If you find a fawn that is not injured and is not in imminent danger from something harming it, please leave them alone. Needlessly hundreds of fawns are taken to licensed

rehabilitator each year that are not injured, but most likely “kidnapped” from their mothers. People presume their efforts are well meaning, but normally are misguided attempts to “save” a seemingly abandoned fawn. The truth is that for the first two weeks of a fawn’s life the doe leaves her fawns hidden, returning every 2 to 12 hours to nurse them (when she feels it is safe to return).

If you find a fawn that is not injured or seems ill or dehydrated, just leave it alone, the mother will return and feed it. Please share this information with other people in your community. Remember, a young animal’s best chance for survival is with its natural parents who, better than anyone else, can ensure that it retains all of its natural faculties and behaviors for survival in the wild. If you have any questions or would like more information contact your local Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

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