Dovhjort

The fallow deer are smaller than the red deer. Originating in the Mediterranean, they have spread throughout central Europe and were introduced to Britain by the Romans. In Sweden wild fallow deer are nowadays most common in Scania, but they have been sighted here in Kosta as well.

In summer the fallow deer often have a reddish-brown coat with white spots, a black dorsal strip and white belly. In winter the colour is more greyish-brown. But the colour of the coat varies greatly between different individuals. The males (bucks) weigh between 46 and 94 kilos, while the females (does) weigh between 35 and 56 kilos. Bucks are 85 to 95 cm at the shoulder while the does usually are between 73 and 91 cm.

The male has antlers, which go through four stages: spikes at 7–8 months of age, beams, half palmate and full palmate antlers. The young bucks are first called prickets and then sorrels. Adult bucks have the typical fully palmate antlers. The velvet coating is shed each August. Once the buck has reached his prime the antlers do not develop further. The antlers are cast off each April–June.

Rutting time normally occurs in October and lasts until early November. Gestation lasts about 230–245 days. The female, or doe, normally gives birth to one or two fawns, weighing about 2 to 4 kilos. The fawns suck for about 7 months but will try other feed as early as 2 to 3 weeks after birth. They are sexually mature at 18 months of age and live on average for 20 years, although the bucks usually do not reach more than 8 to 10 years. The buck reaches his prime at about 6 to 10 years of age. This is when he is in his fullest strength, after which he begins to decline, known as “going back”.

Fallow deer normally eat grass and leaves. In spring the new leaves are the main diet, in summer field crops, potatoes, root vegetables, fruit and berries. In winter they eat heather, lingonberries, blueberry bushes, beech mast and acorns.