• Fallow Deer (Dama dama)

    The origin of the UK Fallow Deer population is uncertain, though the presence of the species here stretches back many centuries. There are archeological records of a similar species before the end of the last Ice Age, which ranged across Britain before it became an island, but there are no traces from that era of the true Fallow now living here. It may be that the Romans introduced the Fallow Deer here, or more likely, they were brought here by the Normans. Fallow have long been popular as a park species as they are attractive in appearance and form a closed herd able to live within a small area.

    Key Facts

    Male – Buck
    Female – Doe
    Young - Fawn

    Life Expectancy – Up to 16 years in the wild.

    Key Features

    • Often show a change of tone or colour half way down the side.
    • Long active tail with broad black/brown stripe down the middle.
    • Long face and broad muzzle.
    • Long wispy guard hairs can often be seen.
    • Bucks show a prominent “Adam’s apple’ and penis brush.
    • Black inverted horseshoe mark on rump (all but white colour variety).
    • Adult bucks have palmated antlers.

    Where can Fallow Deer be found?

    Fallow are mainly found in the southern regions of the UK, with small populations living across the rest of the country, in Lincolnshire, East Anglia, Yorkshire and Wales. There are even small populations as far north as Scotland, which are found near Edinburgh, Loch Lomond, Dumfriesshire and Central Perthshire.

    Some Fallow colour conformations have both a winter and summer coat variation. The main four colours are as follows:

    Rich chestnut coat with a sprinkling of off-white spots. Stark white counter-shading in both winter and summer. The winter coat is grey/brown with faded spots. Black dorsal stripe and horseshoe mark on the rump remain all year round.

    Melanistic (black)

    The coat is a rich black with only very faded spots and rump markings. The counter-shading is still present and the whole coat colour softens and ‘browns’ in the winter.

    In a similar way to the melanistic, the colouring of the white deer is very muted. The hooves and nose are fair, but the eyes are dark, therefore the white Fallow is not an albino strain. The fawns are darker than the adults and only fade out completely at around one year of age.

    This coat conformation does not have a significant winter variation, the densely white-spotted sandy coat remaining largely unchanged through the year, if a little duller in winter. The dorsal stripe and rump marking are a brown colour and the rump patch is white.

    A general tip to recognising Fallow is that the counter-shading should be marked (apart from the white variant which does not have any). The tail also appears long, reaching almost to the hocks. It is sometimes possible to see long guard hairs when the light is right. A Fallow Deer has long almond shaped ears and in the bucks, a prominent penis brush can be seen.

    Fallow bucks are larger than the does and can occasionally grow to rival a small Red stag in size. The Fallow is roughly similar to Sika Deer in size.

    Males Females Young
    Height (woodlands) Up to 95cm Up to 85cm
    Live Weight (woodlands) Up to 95+kg Up to 55+kg At birth 4-5kg


    Fallow Deer usually live in single sex herds apart from during the rutting season. They spend much time grazing as their main food source is grass, supplemented by browsing.

    The rut is later in Fallow Deer than in Red Deer, beginning in around October. The bucks mark a territory by urinating in scrapes, tree thrashing and wallows. They defend their grounds against rival bucks and attract does into the territory to mate them. Once they have a receptive doe, they will follow her about until she submits. There are some instances of each buck setting up a small rutting stands near to each other where there is a lack of space in the habitat, such as enclosed parkland.

    It is usual for each doe to bear one fawn in the mid summer and by the next year the previous year’s doe fawns are old enough to rut, unless the food supply has been so poor as to restrict the growth of the does. The does prefer to give birth alone and return to the herd after a few days once the fawn has built up enough strength. Fallow Deer are unusual in that the does may allow strange fawns to suckle if they approach from the rear.


    The Fallow is a quiet species, with the bucks ‘groaning’ during the rutting season and does calling to fawns with soft bleats which are returned by the young. Occasionally, the Fallow will utter a short bark if suspicious.


    Bucks’ antlers are shed in late spring and the velvet is lost in the previous August or September. The yearling spikes are single points or shorter knobs, depending on the quality of the food available. The second year brings two or three points and the third year is usually significantly increased in size, possibly including some flattening in the top spikes. The fourth year is when palmation begins to show, though some bucks never develop true palmation. The antlers continue to get bigger each year, and small points known as ‘spellers’ may develop around them.
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