10 April 1998

Cut winter feed costs for deer

DEER fed a low energy diet during winter housing display better compensatory growth at turnout and offer big savings in winter feed cost.

These results follow trials at ADAS Rosemaund, Hereford, to establish the effect of different feeding regimes for deer hinds.

Two groups were housed in Sept/Oct at 16/17 months old and fed either an ad-lib 11 ME silage low energy diet or an ad-lib 11 ME silage plus 1kg a head a day of whole barley, high energy diet.

At turnout in April, hinds fed a high energy diet weighed an extra 11.7kg liveweight. Low energy diets maintained lw over winter in year one, but lw fell on both diets during winter of year two due to lower ME intakes (10.8 v 13.1 MJ a day).

Researchers suggest winter feed cost can be cut by feeding a low energy diet, where 16-22-month old hinds require 13MJ ME a day to maintain 80kg liveweight, followed by compensatory growth during grazing the following spring and summer.

But all hinds should be finished under 100kg liveweight to avoid overfat venison carcasses. &#42