Calving times of Red deer (Cervus elaphus) on Rhum

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Abstract

The distribution of calving times in a population of Red deer on the Isle of Rhum, Inner Hebrides, between 1971 and 1976 is described. Two-thirds of calves were born during a three-week period beginning in the last week of May, though calving extended from early May to late August. Except in 1976, when calving occurred late, the timing of births was similar in all years. Variation in calving time within years resulted from (i) individual differences in calving time, (ii) late conception in hinds which failed to conceive at first oestrus, and (iii) the effect of previous reproductive history: on average, hinds calved one week later after rearing a calf in the previous winter. Gestation lengths of wild hinds were longer than in a captive group. This may have been due to overestimation of a proportion of gestation lengths in wild hinds, but supplementary feeding could also have shortened gestation length in captive animals.

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