Autumn is an important time for the animals on the farm; this is the season of love! Generally autumn mating means spring babies, which is a natural instinct for most animals to ensure the best weather head for their new offspring. This is especially so for the Deer. Male deer have spent the summer season and early autumn fattening up on the lush grass, leaves and berries and growing their antlers to look at their most majestic and now have testosterone pulsing through them.
A male in this position can be very dangerous; they are ready to fight to the kill with any other competitor stag to win the right to service the does as the dominant male. This servicing period lasts for around 3 weeks before testosterone levels subside again and is known as “The Rut”. During this period The Stag will lose weight barely stopping to eat or sleep more than absolutely necessary, being totally preoccupied with the task in hand and protecting his hinds. We only allow one fully grown male stag to run with our does as we don’t want to witness a blood bath here on the farm. In large parks where herds can split into groups there may be several stags, but it has become common to remove the antlers ahead of The Rut to make it safer for us to be in parks at this time and to avoid the natural stag fighting. However what you probably don’t know is that the shock of being caught and anesthetised to have their antlers removed actually kills around 25% of them. Here at Coombe Mill any young males, known as Prickets for their little pricket style antlers, are removed at 2 years to avoid the infighting and inbreeding and Rudolph our stag rules with no questions asked!
However it is important that we let people know that The Rut is in progress for our guests who are used to going hunting for the deer in our field and for passing visitors as we have a public footpath crossing the deer field. Deer are naturally shy and won’t trouble people but they must be respected at this time do we always put up a sign to ensure children don’t try and chase the deer and for dog walkers to keep to the path with dogs on leads.
For now our visitors will watch these magnificent animals through the fence as they come down to feed during the tractor feed run to ensure no one is put at risk.
Hopefully Rudolph will do his thing over the coming weeks and be back up to strength to help Santa again on Christmas Eve with a little help of some magic food from our guests made during Christmas Activity Hour!
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.