Deer Feeding Resources - Animal Health and Drought Management

Deer Feeding Resources - Animal Health and Drought Management

Deer Facts

Deer Facts are posted to all known deer farmers. This information can also be found online.

Key areas

Deer Facts - Drought Feeding
Deer Feeding Tables
Deer Facts - Working with seasons

And while its too late to be considering early weaning options for drought management this overview developed in December 2017 with help of Canterbury Advance parties and facilitator Dr Lorna Humm, there are some useful principles and advice >>

Deer Feed App

For calculating daily feed requirements for hinds and weaners, and comparing the cost of different feed options. Open the calculator here >>  

  • Calculates intake and allocation required to hit target weights by defined dates.
  • If you are considering offering supplements over this dry summer and want to know what going to give you the best bang for your buck then go to and use the Feed Cost Comparer. It is pre-loaded with a range of feeds and standard nutrition values.   
  • Enter a cost per tonne, or adjust the figures if you know them, and compare the value of different feed options.  
  • This can be downloaded to your phone to work offline.

Deer Health and Welfare

Body condition scoring BCS

See video and discussion and Body Condition Scoring Chart >>

The deer BCS system was developed in the late 1980s by Laurent Audige and Professor Peter Wilson at Massey University and is an important management tool. Condition score is incorporated into the Code of Welfare for Deer.

Under the Code, deer farmers are required to seek veterinary advice if their deer have a BCS of less than 2. Deer in this condition are considered to be emaciated and unfit for transport.

On a more positive note, good hind feeding pre-mating -- shifting the BCS up by 0.5-1.0 points from say, 3 to 4 -- greatly increases first cycle conception rates and improves overall fawning outcomes.

Key disease and Animal Health Risks

Transport and handling of newly weaned deer

Foot abscess. ( Fusobacteriosis) Typically a high risk for young newly weaned and transported deer complicated by stresses of weaning drought feeding and risks though injury or damage to the Hooves and lower legs in handling facilities, load out ramps. Read more here >>

Internal parasites

A costly problem. Internal parasites are a significant animal health issue on many deer farms. Young deer carrying internal parasites may have significantly decreased growth rates, along with increased death rates, when compared with deer not carrying parasites. This is largely due to a reduction in voluntary feed intake by infected animals. Read more here >>


Yersiniosis is a common disease of young farmed deer caused by Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

  • It’s one of the main causes of scouring and death in 4 to 8-month-old deer.
  • Up to 30% of the mob may be affected.
  • Outbreaks are triggered by factors like stress, particularly the stresses that can occur around the time of weaning.
  • Vaccination and reducing stress and vaccination are the best ways to reduce the disease risk.
  • If an outbreak occurs, act quickly. Call your vet, who will probably treat the affected mob with antibiotics.
  • Yersiniosis sometimes occurs in older deer.
  • The disease can spread to other species including humans, so good personal hygiene is important, particularly during outbreaks.

Read more here >>

General: Deer Health and Planning

Deer Fact Summary

Why is health planning so important? Proactive vs reactive Well-fed, healthy, unstressed deer are profitable deer. A deer health plan will help reinforce these three pillars of profitable deer farm management. Read more here >>

Deer Health Review

A comprehensive manual to oversee all aspects of farmed deer health. Read more here >>

The interactive version also contains drop down information related to various disease risks and management risks and links to the Deer Information hub and DEER Fact sheets

General:  Beef and Lamb NZ Knowledge Hub

Covid 19 Response

Read more here >>

The following is a checklist for farmers to consider and background resources.

Drystock farmers can also call 0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 233 352) to speak to someone who can help them determine how much feed they have and identifying options for managing any issues. 

Dairy farmers can call 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 4 3247969) or AgFirst on 0508 AGFIRST (0508 243 477).


  1. Get an accurate tally of how many stock you wish to have processed, and by when. 
  2. Talk to your meat company representative to find out what’s changed and identify the implications for you – how many animals delayed and for how long. Let them know your processing needs.
  3. Complete a Feed Budget from now until Spring, based on likely processing dates (B+LNZ has spreadsheets, worksheets and feed budget software to help, or your trusted advisor can assist):
  • What's my feed situation? Do a stocktake of pasture cover plus available supplements and forage crops.
  • What’s my pasture going to grow over the next few weeks?
  • What will be the pasture growth response to fertiliser N? (urea, DAP and the like)
  • What’s my feed demand going to be and what’s the additional demand with those extra mouths I’m going to have to carry? Slot all of these figures into a feed budget.
  • What does that mean for my ongoing feed cover, my seasonal pasture cover targets and animal production targets?
  1. If there’s a feed deficit, what are my options?
  • For ewes, cows, finishing stock, trading stock, young stock, options could include the following (check our Extreme Dry Management toolkit for options for dealing with feed deficits):
    • If a class of stock is unable to be processed, are there other stock classes you could and should consider processing instead or is the store market an option?
    • Should I defer planned hogget mating?
    • Use a ram harness to draft off mated ewes as early as possible onto maintenance feed.
  • Nitrogen – temperature, moisture, feed cover – what response will I get?
  • Other supplements such as barley, baleage, PKE. Consider price, availability, equipment, utilisation, labour.
  • Grazing out – what stock class, where, what performance arrangements?
  1. Look at the cashflow consequences and talk to your financial advisors and your financiers as early as possible.
  2. Keep an eye on yourself and your neighbours talk about the issues over the fence (with appropriate distancing) or on the phone and don’t hesitate to reach out to your other trusted advisors.
  3. Consider a ‘virtual discussion group’ or ‘virtual woolshed meeting’ – use tools like Skype or Zoom to have a discussion with other farmers. A problem shared is a problem halved.
  4. If you want to talk to someone, confidentially, about your situation or the situation of someone you are concerned about, contact Rural Support Trust: 0800 RURAL HELP.
  5. Ensure that you have good on-farm COVID-19 risk management processes that will ensure the safety of your own people and those essential services you work with. Take a look at our Ten Point Plan.
  6. Finally, recognise that given the current COVID-19 restrictions across the industry, that things will take longer so acting early is critical.

Background resources

Keep family, friends, colleagues and communities safe during the pandemic

Extreme Dry Management

General Feed Planning

Financial Planning

Our People Resources: Happy to talk at any time


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