From: Deer Farmers' Library (www.deer-library.com)|
I have only hand raised one fawn from birth, her name was "Angel". She was the first fawn born on our farm, and also one of triplets which the doe had abandoned. Unfortunately she never lived past September. For this reason, I decided to further research the subject of hand raising and attempt to determine the reason for her death. In conclusion I have found that we may never know exactly what caused her death, or if it could have been prevented, or that maybe her mother knew better than I.
There are many reasons for wanting to hand raise a fawn, it may be part of a set of triplets, the mother may have abandon it, or you may want to have an animal that is desensitized to human contact. Regardless of how or why, the methods to which you will care for this "baby" are the same.
If you are pulling the fawn off the doe, or if you have a doe that refuses her baby, you will need to find some form of colostrum replacer. Colostrum is mother's first milk. This milk is full of antibodies and will help to protect the fawn from disease for the first few weeks of its life. Different forms of colostrum are available, although I am unsure if there is an actual replica of doe's colostrum. Dairy farmers do tend to keep some frozen to resell. This form of colostrum is acceptable. There is also a synthetic form of colostrum you can purchase from your vet or feed store. You simply mix with water as per directions and feed through the bottle. Colostrum ideally should be fed for the first 24 hours of the fawns life.
Next, you must also decide on a milk replacer. There are several formulas out that have been developed for this purpose. Your local veterinarian or feed store should be able to help you decide. Be sure to mix the formula according to directions on the package. Otherwise, you could end up with diarrhea or constipation, not to mention the fawn would not be receiving the proper vitamin and mineral levels.
Feeding times will vary with different animals and different replacers. Here is a chart for reference only. Make sure to read the package label from the mix you are using.
I found the easiest thing was to keep my newborn in the house for the first 2-3 weeks. However, once the fawn hits about 3 weeks old, they can become a major pain. Baby will develop a incessant curiosity for things such as bathroom tissue, ashtrays, etc. and can quickly make a tremendous mess. Mine even decided to try bathing with me, that is until she figured out there was water in the tub….. ouch! Those hooves are sharp.
While the fawn is in the house, you can try to designate an area for it to sleep. They prefer somewhere dark and warm, somewhere they can feel safely "hidden". I didn't do this and Angel picked her own spot - behind the television. It did not bother her that this was a very noisy place, or that I continually scolded her as I feared she would get tangled up in the cords (although she never did).
When feeding your fawn, use one hand to hold the bottle and the other to apply a damp, warm cloth to their bottom. Gently press and move the cloth around to simulate the doe licking the bottom. The fawn will automatically start to relieve itself. Make sure that you get both bowel movements as well as urine. Otherwise, the fawn can become toxic in a short period of time. As the fawn gets older, you will notice that these movements become less frequent, this is nothing to worry about. After several weeks your fawn will learn to "piddle" on their own without the use of a cloth.
In closing, I want to wish anyone who undertakes hand raising a fawn the best of luck. Please do not take this job lightly, it is time consuming and will tie you down. Once you have begun the process, there is no turning back. Remember, you are playing with nature and nature does not always supply answers. Keep in mind that if you are successful, there is no better reward.
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