Pere David Diary

Diary entries about our Pere David herd based in our Deer Park in Norfolk. Read about the rare Pere David deer, watch the calves grow and the stags rut. Learn about the Pere Davids antler cycle, breeding habits and much more...

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Pere David Diary

Pere Davids rutting
Pere davids sparring
Pere David Calves
Pere david deer park

24th May 2012

The stags are roaring and eyeing each other up. Eeyore seems relaxed about it all this year but Milu is fairly fired up. He won’t leave the hinds alone though he does seem to have the sense this year to leave the new mums out of it all. Jack and Eeyore have been laying up together away from the commotion and having an occasional ‘rutting lesson’. It’s unbelievable to see how gentle Eeyore is with Jack considering the size difference.

22nd May 2012

Double Whammy! I turned up this morning to find two calves had been born overnight. We had commented yesterday that a couple of the hinds seemed heavy but we weren’t expecting two  together! We went back later with the camera and found one laid up in the nettles and the other by the fence. There seemed to be a bit of confusion between the two mums because they started heading for the same calf! After a bit of tension they seemed to sort themselves out and then walked together up to the other side of the field, (see photo).

20th May 2012

The two older stags are shedding their velvet now as well. It means that their antlers aren’t of very good quality this year, this isn’t uncommon with Pere Davids, they will hopefully have another decent set next year.

16th May 2012

Jack has started to shed the velvet on his antlers. He’s got a pretty impressive set this year, considering he’s only 3 years old. He’s very good natured, the calf has taken to laying with him!

Pere David - young stag

18th April 2012

Jack is looking extremely impressive now, his summer coat is coming through and his antlers are growing well. He’s a really handsome looking stag.

Pere David Calf
Deer calf

18th April 2012

The calf was up and about this morning, in fact it was so lively that we struggled to get any photos of it! It’s certainly steady enough on its feet! The weather has improved slightly since yesterday although we are still getting some April showers the rain is not quite as relentless as before. We think it’s a female, though we haven’t confirmed this yet.

17th April 2012

We have our first calf of the year! We are not sure whether it was born late yesterday or early this morning but the weather is hideous - strong wind and heavy rain, so we hope it will be OK. Its mum was sheltering it from the elements so we didn’t disturb them. We will keep you posted on the sex of it and how it is fairing, the weather is set to stay for the week by the look of the forecast so fingers crossed it will be OK.

3rd April 2012

Shy was eating much more today and was with the rest of the herd when we arrived this morning. It’s a good sign and hopefully she is through the worst of it now.

2nd April 2012

Shy was laid in the wood when I arrived this morning, away from the rest of the herd but she did venture over when I started putting out their feed. She picked at the food a bit and looked a bit sore but at least she made it through the night.

1st April 2012

Sad news today. One of the hinds, Shy, went into labour earlier yesterday, the feet were showing but Mark was concerned that things didn’t seem to be moving along by last night. After speaking to the vet we were advised to leave her overnight and hopefully, though the calf may be stillborn, she would give birth naturally. This wasn’t the case and today we had to immobilise her so that we could help deliver the calf. Assuming the calf would be dead already we had to try to save the hind. She was very distressed but with three of us pulling the calf eventually came out, its head had turned backwards which had prevented her giving birth naturally. The calf was dead, as we feared, but luckily the hind responded to the revival drug and was up on her feet within a few minutes. We will just have to hope she makes it through the next 24 hours.

Pere David in Velvet
Cast antlers

9th March 2012

Jacks antlers are coming on well now, they still has a fair bit of growing to do and already we can see they are going to be more impressive than last years.

25th February 2012

Eeyore cast his second antler yesterday and Milu has cast both of his today. We have managed to find three of the four antlers but we are still searching for the fourth. They are not as easy to find as the much bigger summer set.

23rd February 2012

Eeyore has cast one of his antlers, the other one will probably be cast in the next day or two, Milu is yet to cast his.

14th January 2012

Jack has cast his antlers today, he will be 3 years old in May and has cast before the older two stags, who still have their winter set. Jack only had one set of antlers last year.

Shedding Velvet - Pere david deer

2nd December 2011
Eeyore, the oldest stag has begun to shed the velvet on his winter set of antlers (see photo). Milu, the 7 year old stag shed his velvet a couple of days ago. Pere David stags usually have 2 sets of antlers each year, a smaller set for the winter months, which they cast around February and then a much larger set for the summer and the rut. Eeyore only had one set last year, after he cast his summer set in October they kept growing right the way through to May. Jack, the 2 year old still has his second set of antlers, we are guessing that he may cast them in February, the same time as the older stags and then will grow a new set for the summer.

Cast antlers on Pere David stag

19th September 2011
We got back from the Midlands Game Fair to find both of our mature Pere David stags have cast their antlers while we’ve been away. They both look a bit sorry for themselves, it must feel so strange for them to suddenly not have that weight on their heads, it’s pretty early for them to cast, in previous years it has been mid October. The 2 year old, Jack still has his antlers so he thinks he’s the boss now!!

In the Wallow
Pere David Stag

1st August

After a few more dry days we decided we ought to refill the wallow for them, it was a really warm day and you could see how much they appreciated it, they were straight at the hose as soon as the pump started and then headed over to the wallow as if they knew what to expect! The stags are still roaring, the older two stags have moulted their chestnut coats and are now gun-metal grey, their coats are really sleek, a complete change from their wooly winter attire! Its only the males that have this colouring in summer. You can see on the picture that Milu still has a chestnut face!

15th July 2011
Sadly Lulus calf died this morning. It had appeared to be fine up until early this morning and by the time we had returned an hour later it had passed away. Lulu seems distressed but hopefully she will be OK.

Pere David calf
Pere David Deer
Pere Davids Rutting

12th July 2011
The calf was up laid up with the herd this morning and we are pretty sure it was born on Sunday, it certainly looked more than 36 hours old.

11th July 2011

I went to sit in the highseat on the field next to the deer park this evening. I was watching a Roe doe in the wheat field in front of the wood when I turned and saw Lulu, the first calf born on our deer park (2009), with a calf of her own. The calf looked fine, steady on its feet and I felt sure it hadn’t been born that day, though we hadn’t seen it this morning.

28th June 2011
After having rain this afternoon we went to pick ragwort this evening. The deer were all fairly settled and enjoying the cooler damp evening. Eeyore and Jack were sparring, we think Jack must be in training! Eeyore was pushing one antler forward and Jack was interlocking it with his two antlers. Eeyore was gently pushing him and jack was trying to stand his ground! It was funny to watch this 2 year old trying to beat a 12 year old! But Eeyore was very gentle with him knowing he was no threat.

18th June 2011
Mark has been to top the deer park today, hopefully with rain forecast we will start to see some greener grass coming through for them. There’s a fair bit of ragwort appearing now so we will need to get over to pick that before it goes to seed.

10th June 2011
Milu has taken over from Eeyore with the hinds. Eeyore has lost so much weight and has been working so hard to keep Milu away for the last few weeks, he looks absolutely exhausted. We just have to hope that Milu will leave the calves alone as he’s not as good natured and tolerant as Eeyore.

6th June 2011

The calf is almost back to normal now, running around and keeping up with its mum. It’s a boy, and we’ve called it Ronnie.

5th June 2011

The calf is moving about a bit better today. It was laid up for a little while but definitely seemed more mobile on it than yesterday. Its mum, Audrey, is really good with it, she is waiting for it to catch up with her.

4th June 2011
We are a bit concerned about the calf today, its limping badly on one of its front legs. We noticed it from the other side of the field as it was trying to run with its mum. The stags are really going for it with the rut at the moment and are chasing the hinds everywhere. We guess it’s been injured while trying stick with its Mum. As it got closer to us we could see that it didn’t appear to be broken and it was bending it at both the knee and hock so hopefully its just a strain.

Pere David Deer Park

2nd June 2011
Had a surprise this morning when we found new calf laid up right next to the wallow. Some of the afterbirth was still laying there and so it had been born near the wallow. Our guess is that because of the rut Eeyore wouldn’t let the hind go off on her own to have the calf so she had to make do. It seems well and even has mud from the wallow on its back legs already!

4th May 2011

Heard Eeyore roaring for the first time so looks it like the rut is imminent. Almost all of his velvet is gone now. The calves are both doing fine, we are continuing to water the wallow every few days just to keep them all cool.

27th April 2011
Eeyore has begun to shed his velvet.  There was blood all over the water butt this morning.

Pere David Wallow

23rd April 2011
It’s been so hot and dry that we have decided we need to provide them with something more than a butt of water. The stags keep standing in the butt to cool their feet down and so the water is constantly muddy! Its really important that the hinds have enough water when they are feeding the calves so a decision was made to wet their wallow for them. It’s usually fine for them because its situated on a natural spring and the park is on wet land but this year we are going to have to intervene. We pumped water across the field into the wallow, it was like putting out a paddling pool for children, they all ran and splashed and rolled! It was fantastic to watch and was obviously much needed and appreciated!

11th April 2011

We took the car in the park today hoping to get some more photos and video footage of the calf. I was videoing and Mark got out of the car to take some photos across the bonnet. Zulu and mum were fairly close and Zulu started to come towards the car. He came right round the front of the car, Mark bobbed down and he came up to Mark and licked his hand! His Mum was not far behind, though she didn’t seem overly concerned we weren’t going to take any chances after yesterday so Mark slowly got back into the car and Zulu wandered back to his mum.

10th April 2011
It’s a boy! Mark managed to get a peep today while it was curled up away from its mum. We’ve decide to call him Zulu, someone suggested Mickey, to go with Minnie, but it didn’t seem quite ‘staggy’ enough!!

9th April 2011
Mark put some carrots out for Coconut by the wood again and she approached the pile with her calf in tow. Milu, the 6 year old stag approached the pile as well so she bit him to warn him away from her calf. He didn’t take any notice and tried to get between her and the calf, not a good idea. Mark said, with the speed of lightening she raised both of her front feet in the air and came down on Milus head! The crack echoed down the wood as Milus chin hit the floor, he looked a bit stunned and then shook his head and wandered off. Mark couldn’t believe how fast it happened and was shocked to think what would have happened had it been one of us, we certainly wouldn’t have walked away like Milu did! Anyway he didn’t seem any worse for wear, although he may be a touch more wary of a new mum in the future – we certainly will be!

Pere David Park

8th April 2011
We arrived at 6.00am to find the hind standing on the edge of the wood looking back into the wood, we guessed that she had had her calf in there, which is unusual as we have found that the Pere Davids rarely take their calves into the wood when they are very young. We are still feeding carrots to the herd because the grass is not yet long enough, we have usually stopped by mid March but because of the harsh winter and lack of rain we decided to continue for a bit longer. Mark put a pile of carrots closer to the wood for her, as she made her way to the pile her calf followed her.  The calf was barely an hour old and still wet from the birth and wobbly on its feet. We could see some of the afterbirth still in the wood. We are not sure of the sex of it yet as wouldn’t have a hope of getting near it when it’s with mum. This hind didn’t have a calf last year.

Pere David in Labour

7th April 2011
Coconut, one of the hinds looked very uncomfortable this morning and is laid up away from the other hinds. We hoped she was in labour and so decided to go and sit up with the video camera hoping to get the birth on video. When we returned she was pacing up and down unable to settle. We stayed for a few hours and then I went back for the evening stint. She is definitely in labour but no sign of the calf this evening.

Deer Park

22nd March 2011
A big surprise today when we arrived, the first calf of the year! Minnie is 2 months earlier than any calves we have had in previous years but she seems to be doing well. With the weather being fairly mild hopefully she will be fine.