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Raising Deer – How to Bottle Feed a Whitetail Deer Fawn
My husband and I received our first Whitetail Fawn when she was a day old. A few weeks before bringing her home we applied through the Department of Natural Resources for our wildlife breeders license. You must obtain this, and the breeder numbers of the buck and doe that the fawn came from. We allowed this fawn to nurse from her mother for a 24 hours to receive some colostrum before bringing her home.
We placed her in a dog carrier for the transport home. The fawns are very scared and docile and are easily handled the first few days. She was kept in the house for her first 3 weeks and then moved to a dog pen outside. Whitetail deer can jump straight up from a very young age. We recommend at least a 4 ft. fence until 12 weeks of age and then a 9-10ft fence from then on.
Whitetail deer are fed goat milk replacer. This can be found at many feed or farm stores. For feeding, we used a regular baby bottle with a rubber nipple. A long red rubber nipple used to bottle feed goats and lambs may also be purchased. The bag of replacer will tell you how to mix the formula. We would mix a big batch and store it in a container in the refrigerator.
We started our fawn out on a 3 hour feeding schedule. It is very important that these fawns are fed at least 6 times per day for the first few weeks. Start with an ounce of formula. Our fawn just laid around for the first week and didn’t get up and move much. For feedings we placed her on a towel and fed her while she was lying down. We had many problems with her feedings. She did not take to the nipple well at all and we ended up using a syringe to force feed her for a few days. After she got the hang of it, she ate like a pro. It is advisable to add 1-2 tablespoons of plain yogurt to each bottle to prevent diarrhea. The diarrhea can be fatal to a fawn and you can lose them very fast. If the diarrhea still persists, talking to a wildlife or exotic veterinarian about medication may be necessary.
The reason most people lose fawns is because they do not know that they must wipe the deer’s behind after every feeding to stimulate urination and defecation. It is mandatory that this is done. Fawns cannot use their bodily functions on their own until about 4-6 weeks of age. They can easily become septic and die if the wiping is not done. We placed our fawn in a Rubbermaid tub with newspapers lining the bottom. We used baby wipes to wipe her and did this after every feeding.
At about 12 weeks of age you can wean the fawn from the bottle. We started offering deer pellets and water in a bowl from week 3 on. She began eating solids at about 8 weeks of age. We also feed clover hay, corn and soybeans to supplement her diet. Our bottle feeding schedule is as follows:
Day 1-3 2 ozs every 3 hours (force feeding as necessary)
Day 4-7 4 ozs 6 times a day
Day 8-14 6 ozs 6 times a day
Day 15-21 8 ozs 5 times a day
Day 22-28 8 ozs 5 times a day
Day 29-35 9 ozs 4 times a day
Day 36-42 10 ozs 3 times a day
Day 43-49 10 ozs 3 times a day
Day 50-56 12 ozs 2 times a day
Day 57-63 12 ozs 2 times a day
Day 64-84 16 ozs once a day
Keep in mind that every deer is different and adjustments may need to be made. The main problem with bottle feeding the overfeeding of the fawns. All deer farmer’s do things differently, we have found this system to be what works for us.
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