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Thread: Medal Heads?

  1. #1

    Medal Heads?

    I have read that some land just will never sustain/spawn a medal head,and,I am intrigued as to what sort of land would be the ideal for medal heads.Most of my land is open fields with nice thick hedgelines,and,bordered or at least close to some wooded areas............Martin.

  2. #2
    I suspect that 'Medal Heads' result from good management of deer which have access to the right mix of food and more importantly mineral nutrients. I don't know the chemical content of antlers - perhaps Morena can enlighten us? However, I would guess calcium, potassium and phospherous are in there somewhere - all of which probably need other 'ingredients' in the right proportion to metabolise into significant antler growth e.g us humans need vitamin D to metabolise calcium into bone mass.
    Get all that mix right, allow buck to mature for a number of years and voilá - a medal head!
    To get the right nutrients the animal needs to be browsing and/or grazing on plants that are growing in the right soil. Or the animals need access to supplementary feed/mineral blocks - and that is a whole new thread!

  3. #3
    So possibly,if a number of 'Good' supplement blocks were put around the ground,then,maybe the quality of the heads might go up? Is it that easy,or,am I making very light of it?
    Come on Morena,give us the benefit of your vast knowledge please,or anyone else that has some input please..............Martin.

  4. #4
    Not sure this will help but I put two mineral blocks on my ground for the same reason and saw no sign whatsoever that they were being used regularly, if at all.

    I guess the answer is find something they want (apple concentrates appeard to be the answer from an earlier thread) and put it on a mineral block that will hopefully make up for any local mineral deficiency.

  5. #5
    I feel that all the factors need to come together eg good managment were your big buck has little to do but get big and strong instead of chasing little bucks off his patch all day long .He needs left alone to keep his stress levels down .he needs to be carrying the right genes and the soil need to be rich in food and nutrients. With the block while i have put them out n the passed and the deer have used them . i HAVE NOT SEEN ANY MAJOR IMPROVMENT BECAUSE OF THEM.

  6. #6
    I am convinced medal heads has a lot to do with genetics, some grounds are renowned for medal heads ( passed on by genes ? ) and other seemingly good grounds never produce any.

  7. #7
    Although genetics do play a small part in producing quality heads, the right conditions are much more important. Good forage, shelter and low stress all combine to produce optimum conditions. Solitary deer like roe are too stressed by high densities, and even big red stags transplanted from parks to poorer areas 'to add to the quality of the gene pool' deteriorate in both body weight and antler size quite quickly. If you've got too many deer, or too poor an environment to support them, there simply aren't the resources to go round. It's all about balance.

    And forget the mineral blocks - if you've got the balance right you (and the deer) shouldn't need them. OK, the continentals place great store in them but they try to keep deer densities higher than what the ground should reasonably support - which is why you don't see that many good heads coming out of, say, Germany.

  8. #8
    The one patch i have which Bandit Country has been to has roe and fallow on it. The 2 roe we have taken have had sweeping back antlers, which go into a slight 's' shape and the other we spotted the other week also had the same configuration, so perhaps it's a genetic strain???

  9. #9
    In my view it has a lot to do with genetics but this has to be supported by the environment that the deer live in. Generally speaking you have to have good feeding for the deer combined with good genetics and for roe limestone or chalk seems to be a consistent feature of the biggest heads but plenty come from Scotland and other areas where this geology is in short supply. It is often the case that areas newly colonised by roe produce a few good heads very early on.

    A good example of the importance of genetics can be seen in East Anglia where the red deer are of English Park origin including the very best genetic stock in Western Europe which is from Warnham Court. This area consistently produces some of largest red stag heads in the UK and this can be substantially argued to be a result of the very high quality genetic stock. On the other hand the roe in the area were introduced from Germany and isolated from other UK roe. These are of very poor quality compared to almost every other roe area in the UK. Both species feed over some of the same areas so geology and feeding seem less important than genetics.

    The reds that are loose in South Wales are from similarly good genetic stock but live in a relatively poor area for feeding and yet there was a silver medal from the area a year or two ago.

    On the other hand reds that have encroached on forested areas of Scotland from the poorer open hills often produce better heads as a result of the improved feeding and deer of Scottish Highland stock have produced huge heads in New Zealand.

    I know several areas where fallow bucks from Sussex (often Petworth with the best heads in the UK) have been imported to improve antlers.

    The best way to improve the quality of heads is to leave the good bucks or stags in for as long as possible and cull anything with a poor head. This allows genetics to play their full part, after that it's down to feeding and geology.

  10. #10
    In answer to the request of the chemical composition of antlers,these are true bone and have the same composition viz calcium phosphate with collagen mainly with little bits of other minerals.
    To re'M'ington no vast knowledge a liitle more than some and a little less than others
    To improve antlers is basically good stockmanship. Your starting point is a triangle.



    You are starting off with a population of deer about which you may know certain facts. this is where your game larder records are indispensable. More info more use. Weights up/down or steady. long term weather conditions,availability of food for previous period. more mouths less food for individual ( stocking density in nutshell). Change of plants etc.
    Antler symmetry is entirely determined by genetic makeup. various parts of the country had Roe imports from continental europe and some of these were of mediocre stock, hence low genetic potential. No matter how good nutrition/habitat will hit a plateau after which no improvement.
    Years ago Red stags with magnificent racks were moved to the highlands to improve the stock. those that survived reverted to typical highland stock.
    Genetic potential hindered by habitat/nutrition
    Highland stags moved down south had magnificent antlers.
    Genetic potential maximised by habitat/nutrition.
    Experts can have pretty good idea form what part of country antlers have originated.
    Genetics are there in the population and all you can do is facilitate the best breeding stock. This is where I can explain the science but the art is down to the deer manager/stalker. All the experts tell us to maintain equal parity between the sexes and shoot a higher portion of yearlings equal numbers of males females. More food for the grownups. Shoot too many good heads and you are depressing the male genetic pool, which to a certain extent can be assessed visually by body and antlers. Keep the female population under control or else too many mouths.
    Habitat. Is there shelter for the deer after feeding. wide open areas no wind shelter chill factor, more food to keep body temperature less for growth. Anyone been hind culling in highlands will know what I mean.
    Nutrition. This is dependent on the soil. Poor soil poor grazing/browsing as the plants are struggling to grow. Hence lower food value. Some soils are deficient in micronutrients and consequently plants deficient. Excess nitrogen fertilizer incredible growth mineral value down. What is needed is a good mixture of browse/grazing with herbs which have these micronutrients including Calcium, phosphorus, selenium,copper magnesium. Protein for growth carbohydrates for energy cellulose for rumenal activity. Deer fed low protein diets experimentally have poor antlers.
    First and foremost need a good body before they can grow good antlers. The calcium requirements of red deer stags towards the end of the velvet growth are phenomenal 5 grams a day and if they they can't produce this they from diet chewing bones cast antlers they resorb calcium from their rib bones to make good the deficit.
    As you can see from this putting out a few mineral blocks is a waste of time unless you have a proved depressed level of them in the herbage.

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