Velveting on the horizon...
With velveting approaching, here's a summary of the two really important key areas to consider:
Check and maintain if required:
- Crushes, gates and pen doors - ensure all latches/hinges are working well and that holes/gaps in pens are minimised as stags seem to have a knack of getting legs/antlers caught in them! Check the hydraulics on your crush and replace worn/damaged hose linings.
- Walls - a gap between wall and the roof that allows light to come through often invites a stag to aim for it so try to block it and, by doing so, minimise velvet damage and animal injury.
- Shed Cover and ventilation - fully covered sheds will usually be cooler which reduces the chances of overheating (occurs with temperatures over 22°C). However they can also be dusty and "stuffy" so ensure there is adequate ventilation.
- Flooring - ground that is too muddy/wet is not be safe as animals can drown in small pools of water when under sedation. Such conditions also compromise hygiene.
Minimising stress on stags at the time of velveting is critical and some may need an hour or so to settle before they are sedated. However, some stags get more worked up when enclosed for longer periods of time so work out and go with the system best suited to your stock.
Xylazine is the sedative drug most often used during velveting. It affects the animal's cardiac (heart) and respiratory (lungs) systems and can also heighten the risk of overheating. Bloat and regurgitation can also occur during sedation. There is a proportion (0.1%) of the farmed deer population in New Zealand that are susceptible to having a delayed allergic reaction to xylazine and are most often found dead 24-48 hours after sedation.
Other important management considerations following sedation are:
- Consider re-scheduling if the day is too hot, yards too wet or deer too stressed.
- Post-velveting deer need to be monitored so should be released into a shady paddock with easy access to water.