Ask The Biologist

Got Milk?

Got Milk?

By Bob Humphrey

It’s not unusual to see fawns pestering does for milk during hunting seasons.

QUESTION: I saw an obviously very young deer trying to get milk from a doe yesterday, and it’s October! Is that normal? I thought all the fawns would be eating regular food by now.

ANSWER: It’s not all that unusual to see fawns, especially smaller ones, still nursing in the fall. In fact, at biological check stations, biologists will often check the udders of does for evidence of milk, indicating that they raised at least one fawn.

Weaning is a gradual process. Fawns don’t just stop nursing; they gradually transition from mother’s milk to increasing amounts of vegetation.

As for size, it could be a late-born fawn. While peek breeding among adult does generally occurs within a relatively narrow 10-to-14 day window, some does are bred outside that window. Does not bred during the first rut go into estrus again approximately 28 days later, which means their fawns will be born a month later than most fawns. Younger does, too, may not enter their first estrus until after peek breeding.

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