Suckling time and fawn growth in fallow deer (Dama dama)



The total suckling time and the fawns’ absolute increase in weight from birth to weaning were studied in a group of fallow deer over two consecutive calving seasons. The aim was to clarify the use of suckling time as a predictor of parental input in fallow deer. When all subjects from both years are taken into account, no positive relation between suckling time and growth was found. This was due to at least two important factors: (i) fawns to primiparous mothers sucked relatively longer, with no corresponding increase in weight, compared to multiparous mothers; and (ii) suckling time during the first two weeks after birth seems to be an inadequate measure of milk transfer.