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Department of Agriculture Sarawak, 7th, 12-14, 16-17th Floor, Menara Pelita, Jln. Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub, Petra Jaya, 93050 Kuching, Sarawak

Tel. No.:  082-441000  
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Deer RearingDeer Rearing

Deer of sub-species Rusa (Cervus timorensis russa) is an indigenous wild life species of Borneo. Deer has an excellent potentoal as a farming enterprise. Commercial farming of deer can produce an annual yield of 500-700 kg per hectare.



Female reproduction

Fertility (Receptive Period)

  • Hinds of female deer calve throughout the year.
  • Pregnancy rates is about 90%, indicating that rusa hinds are highly fertile.
  • Hinds conceive at 18-20 months of age, at an average weight of 45-46 kg.
  • The gestation period is about 249 ~ 13 days, receptive period os about 17-18 days cycle.

Birth (Parturition)

  • Labor lasts for 15-45 minutes.
  • Time to first standing and first suckling in newborn (neonates) ranges from 20-45 minutes abd 69-195 minutes respectively.
  • After cleaning and suckling the calf, the mother leaves it in a hiding place and rejoins the herd.
  • She will return to the calf for nursing periods until the calf is 4-5 days old. Thereafter the mother and the calf remain on the peripheryt of the herd.
  • The calves, remain in immobile posture when approached. This prone response is observed for up to 72 hours. Calves may be weaned at three months of age.

Prenatal mortality

  • The major cause of prenatal losses in deer calves are associated with low body temprature (hypothermia) and weather stress.
  • Low birth-weigh calves have poor chances of survival if they are born in the colder months.
  • Being of tropical origin, deer do not tolerate the cold well. It is vital that calving paddocks have good shelter from winds and rain. To minimize these losses, the hinds are kept in a good condition throughout pregnancy and offered plenty of quality feed during lactation.

Male reproduction


Rutting is a periodic sexual excitement of a male deer. During this period, stages spend a major part of the day involved in social activities such as grooming, wallowing, fighting, chasing and mating hinds.

They exhibits maximal testosterone concentrations, presence of hard antler and an increase in rutting activity. Whilst the rut is in progress, stages become intractable and agrresive.

Antler Growth

The antler growth cycle is dependent on testonsterone levels. Stages usually cast their antlers once a year. The velvet become dry and begins to shed, at this time, testorone concentration is rising. Stages may produce viable spermatozoa during antler growth cycle.

  • Rubbing of Antlers

Stags are known to cause considerable damage to trees by removal of bark as they rub their old velvet off their antlers against it. This natural function often occur just before the rutting season. As an alternative, rubbing post could be erected in deer enclosures as a substitute.



Mating management

  • Tropical deer do not have well defined breeding season, they can reproduce throughout the year.
  • Breeding life span ranging from 10-12 years.
  • Stages are fertile at about 18 months of age.
  • The onset of first breeding generally depends on body weight, average at 45 kg.
  • The stage:hind ratio of 1:10 is likely to ensure a more concentrated calving.
  • It is worth to manipulate calving date, try to avoid landas. During this season, mortality rate is high.
  • Under restricted mating system, stags are removed from the hinds and reunited during warmer season. Calving should also coincide with times when pasture availability is high. Each successful mating produce single calf, twins are not common.

Growth rates

  • Calves weight about 9 kg at birth.
  • They gain 5-10 kg every year and reach mature weights of about 100 kg for stags and hinds 85 kg.
  • Deer are efficient feed converters. Mortality rates normally from 5-7%.




  • Deer are successfully run on improved pastures.
  • Hand feeding is carried out mainly with a mixture of grain and hay.
  • Deer eat a wide variety of plant species, including shrubs, leaves, herbage, etc.
  • Most deer breeders provide supplementary feed more as a means of quieting the herd than by necessity for feed requirement.

Yards Design

  • Various designs for yards have been developed.
  • The main features of each design incorporate solid construction sides of timber at least 2 meters high with a race and forcing pen.
  • The yards are to be fenced to avoid enemies and for easier management.
  • The yards are preferably enclosed in a dark shed or solid sides to reduce vision as to facilitate easier handling of the animals.
  • The quieter they are kept, the easier they are to handle and the less risk from injury and shock, and quieter conditions for removing velvet.


  • Deer are hard to muster compare to cattle or sheep.
  • They are handle better if moved during the dawn or at night.
  • They can be dangerous if moved or worked during the rut or mating period.
  • The herd size of 10-12 deer are easier to handle.



  • Deer suffer similar disease problems with other domesticated livestock.
  • Internal parasites are among the problems.
  • They are known to be very sensitive to heavy stress, especially in captive and transport situations.


Meat Production


  • Venison or deer meat has very little marbling or fat distributed between the muscle layers.
  • About 95% of the soft tissue is lean meat.
  • The carcass is about 52% of the live weight.
  • The higher priced cuts are to be found in the hind leg.


  • Velvet is young antler before it calcifies is rubbed clean by the stag.
  • It is important to remove it at the correct time and processed as a health tonic.
  • Antlers are used for trophy, jewelry, fancy goods or decoration.
  • Some other parts of the animal are useful as medicines.

For details, please contact:

Veterinary Division,
Department of Agriculture,
Level 12, Menara Pelita,
Jln Tun Abdul Rahman Yaakob,
Petra Jaya,
93050 Kuching


Source: Deer Rearing, Department of Agriculture, August 2000