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Thread: When do reindeer go into hard antler?

  1. #1

    When do reindeer go into hard antler?

    Yesterday afternoon, Young Master Pine Marten was taken to see some reindeer, a doe and a yearling, born in May apparently, so presumable well into adolescence, although I don't know how fast reindeer grow up. I'm told that the yearling's little antlers were in velvet, which made me think that if YMPM asked me when it would go into hard antler, I wouldn't know the answer. Obviously we can't have that, so for next year, or the year after, when he does ask me, can somebody please tell me how the reindeer's year goes? Although obviously at this time of year they're doing seasonal delivery work.

  2. #2
    Got to love the http://WWW..... Based on farmed stock but the cycle is the cycle. Interesting article and some things I didn't know.

    Should well impress the YPM if you can remember it all in a year!

    The Antler Cycle

    Reindeer calves start growing their antler before they are a month old. The amount of antler produced will be determined by their genetic make up, but their date of birth plays the most important role in antler production their first year. A male calf born in mid April will always have more antler growth in his first year that a male calf born in mid May. This may be totally reversed in their second year of growth.
    The growth of reindeer antler will be presented on a calendar year basis:
    A female’s antlers or buttons are still firmly attached and in a calcified state.
    The older males will have shed their antlers by now.
    Females’ antlers are still firmly attached.
    Males may start to bud their new antler. It will start with a swelling at the site of the antler and then develop into black, shiny bumps. These will form into fuzzy, larger balls before they split. They will then form the main shaft and the shovel. The antler is covered in velvet and is very sensitive at this stage. Handling should be done with care as the antler can easily be damaged at this point.
    Most females will retain their hard antler until after they have calved, but some start to shed. In most cases, the late calvers and open females will shed early and start to develop their velvet antlers. Rarely will a female due to calve in April or May shed at this time.
    Males’ antlers will continue to grow but may appear to grow in stages. You can notice times of rapid growth and then it may seem that they are not growing at all. Some people have tried feeding extra calcium during the velvet growth period with no noticeable benefit to the antler produced. Good nutrition is essential to good antler production.
    Remaining females should loose their hard antler in April after calving. Some will shed shortly after calving and some will shed up to 3 weeks later. Either way, the new growth begins almost immediately and you will notice the black, shiny buds appear. The cows’ growth is the same as the bulls, just on a smaller scale.
    The bulls continue with growth to the main beam, shovel(s) and the browtine.
    The female antlers will all be growing by now and will follow the same pattern as the males’ did.
    Male antlers continue to grow and mature males will most likely be ready to harvest during May. The velvet must be cut at the right stage of growth to receive top dollar. Careful monitoring of velvet growth is essential.
    If you do not velvet, the antler continues to grow. Antlers grow from the tip of the antler; therefore the base will calcify while the rest of the antler continues to expand in height. Once the growth is past a certain level, the antler will remain the same diameter with no further growth taking place at that level. Spikes that grow off the main beam will continue to grow and get longer.
    June is usually the time to remove the female antler is you so choose. This should be done around mid month, keeping in mind the calcification and what stage the antler is in.
    Males that have been velveted will have growth again. There can be quite a lot of regrowth, depending on when you first cut. IN most cases, there will be 3 small antlers growing from the cutoff. One will be the dominant antler and grow quite quickly. The others will slow down and have little or no growth.
    If you did not velvet, the lower portion will continue to calcify while the tips continue to grow. Finding out how much the antler has calcified can be done by checking how far down the antler is warm. The calcified antler will be cooler than the portion that is still growing.
    Females are finishing their final growth by the end of July and into August.
    Males will enter the final stages of calcification.
    Females finish the final growth and calcification and hard antler may be removed. Females can injure and even kill other females in their fights for place and stature in the herd. They will rub off their velvet toward the end of the month and some of the calves will also rub off their velvet.
    Male antlers are fully mature now and they will start to strip their velvet off. The hard antler should be removed before the end of the month as the rut is about the start. IF they don’t hurt each other, they may hurt you. IF you wish to have a set of natural sheds, it is wise to separate the bull from the rest of the herd and wait fro the antlers to shed naturally.
    If you velveted, the second growth should now be cut. Cut the antlers above the pedicle about 1 to 2 inches. You do not want to damage the pedicle by cutting too far down as it may result in abnormal or no antler development the following year.
    Males and females will antlers or buttons are still firmly attached. If you have left any antler on your deer, you should make sure they have enough space to feed and drink. Most injuries will occur around the feed and water troughs. A good rule of thumb is approximately 3 feet for each animal at the feed trough.
    Males will now be in rut.
    At this time of year, both the male and female antlers remain in the calcified state and are used in fighting during the rut.
    Female antlers or buttons remain firmly in place.
    Some males may lose their antlers or buttons.
    Females retain their hard antlers or buttons.
    Most of the mature bulls will shed their hard antler.
    Last edited by Cris; 20-12-2013 at 14:05.

  3. #3
    Established Poster
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    The New Forest, Hampshire
    Females retain their hard antlers or buttons.
    Most of the mature bulls will shed their hard antler.

    I like reminding my daughter at this time of year that Rudolph is a girl!

  4. #4
    So the yearling in velvet that YMOM saw would be an immature bull?

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