Baby deer

In general, a baby deer is called a fawn, although the term 'kid' (e.g. for roe deer) or 'calf' (e.g. for red deer and sika deer) are sometimes used. Most fawns are born in May or June in grass of 1 to 2 feet high and weigh anywhere from 1.5 to 2.2 kg (for roe deer deer) and up to 6 to 14 kg (a red deer).


The Birth


Most roe deer births occur during daylight hours and can occur in the lying down or upright position . Labour normally takes around 1.5 hours and young emerge headfirst. If there are twins or triplets, they be born in turn about 15 to 45 minutes apart. Straightaway the newly born youngster tries to free itself from the protective sac in which it was born called the caul.


The First Few Minutes


Once free from her body, the parental doe will lick her fawn, cleaning off the remnants of the fluid that surrounded the youngster when it was developing inside the womb. This cleaning process will also dry the fawn, and during this time, the new-born will be communicating with the mother by squeaking (who also responds with squeaks and muffled hissing sounds) establishing the strong pair bond that will keep the two of them together for most of the following 12 months.


To remove all traces of the birth from the birth site (which could attract a predator), the mother then consumes the caul and the surrounding grass, which will contain traces of the birthing fluid.


Baby Steps


The mother's licking stimulates activity from the fawn, which it soon struggles to its feet (hooves). Instinctively it moves towards one of the mother's four teats, who is now, most likely in the laying down position, where it will suckle for a few minutes, taking in its colostrum - milk, rich in vital antibodies, essential for the function of the youngster's immune system.


Hidden in the Undergrowth


Roe deer fawns are too vulnerable to follow their mother around for their first few months, so for the majority of that time they remain safely hidden in the long vegetation. The parental doe will return to feed them every 4 to 6 hours and move them to a different location. For the first 1 to 2 months, the baby deer largely just feed on their mother's rich milk and tend to put increase in weight by about 139 to 155 g per day.


Baby Deer Are Not Abandoned By Their Mother


People sometimes come across baby deer lying up in the long grass, etc... and seeing no sign of the mother, mistakenly think that the fawn has been abandoned. This is highly unlikely.


What happens is this:


The parental doe will almost certainly be nearby; probably lying up, hidden away or discretely feeding - she will return to her youngster when it's quiet and when her udder is full. If you ever find yourself in the position where you do indeed come across a young deer hiding in the long vegetation, leave it well alone and move away from the area to allow the mother to come back and feed the youngster.


You may also be interested in:


What happens during a deer's first year of life?

Baby deer