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Thread: In Calf Sika Calf

  1. #1

    In Calf Sika Calf

    Yesterday I made perhaps my last stalking trip of the season to a piece of forestry that I rent. It mainly holds Sika but has some vagrant Reds and a small Roe population. A huge amount of replanting and felling has ment no shooting has been possible for two years with the result that the forest manager has been shocked at the level of browsing damage done last spring. I managed to get a start the second week of November but with all the historic disturbance the Sika were even more inclined to nocturnal habits than is usual for them. I have had a bit of success though through sheer time on the ground and have enjoyed the challange immensly. At seven am I lay between one of the re-stock sites and the forest road and as it became light I saw two Sika move through the brash heaps towards me. A hind and calf I thought and was lucky enough to get them both. I gralloched the hind first and noted the fine condition she was in plus she had a foetus the size of a rabbit in the womb. When I gralloched the calf- surprize- she too had a foetus. This time about the size of a weasel. I had to do a quick reappraisal of her age. Was I misteaken and was she just a small yearling? I see she had the small ,compact face and head of a calf. She is about half the size of the hind and her lower first molar is just through. She is a calf. Some thoughts- I know Sika have a longer breeding season than Reds and dont just come into season once. I have heard whistles in November and seen Stags following hinds then. I think the calf is only about two and a half months pregnant which would make the service end November. She would then calve down herself late summer and would have a very small calf going into the winter. This would have a knock -on effect on subsequent fertility and breeding seasons. All theory I know but quite interesting-no? I am the first to admit that before this year I finished my Sika Hind cull on my own property always before new year so maybe this is not so rare. Has anyone else seen this?

    David

  2. #2
    About 12 years ago we used to cull quite a few Sika a bit higher up than you last three weeks of the season and found a lot of calves carrying a foetus.Wf1

  3. #3
    I have shot two calves over the years that have been pregnant, this is a very low percentage but shows it is possible. I have also shot two sika hinds that had twin embryos. Just this morning I shot a sika calf that weighed only 7kg. I think that this has been a late born calf. In the recent few years some of us have said that we have seen a larger variance in the size of sika calves which I think is a result of the sika rut starting, stopping and starting up again

  4. #4
    I believe whether calves hold to a stag is governed by reaching a body wieght threshold , so well grown calf in good nick on good keep could readily become pregnant . I suspect that more do than we are aware of but may either re absorb ,abort or fail to rear this first calf sucessfully. I see the occassional red calf from culls pregnant and have had some sucessfully rear calves in a park. Were the hill wieghts about average for the ground or obviously better?

  5. #5
    Very interesting reading. I'm new to sika so enjoy learning what I can.

  6. #6
    In farm kept ruminants the ability of an animal to come into a fertile season and hold to service is a very complex , multifactoral one. Yes a major element is body weight and rapid thriving. Farmers among you will know of the pest of the quick growing hiefer calf that gets bulled by an uncut stirk with all the associated problems that causes. In deer , an animal with finite breeding seasons , for a calf to become pregnant is more of a wonder. Breed and strain in cattle affect this and I wonder if I am looking at something similar here. The body weights of the Sika on this property are well above avarage due to the abundance of good feeding and also the influence of some Formosan blood which was said to be part of the original escapees that colonised this area in the early 1900s. If some of these calves can rear a calf themselves I would think the lactatonal effort would definitly stunt them as yearlings. So far I have not incountered any such animals.

    David

  7. #7
    We shot 3 sika hinds on Saturday, the biggest an old hind at 28kg and the other two about 22kg. All three were pregnant and close to the size suggested by the OP.

    The average weight of hinds on my ground is good and will comfortably be between 28kg and 33kg with some a good bit bigger. calves are normally of good weight as wel with the feeding available.

    We saw calves this year in late May. We also saw a young calf in october that looked very young compared to the others out feeding. Still in full summer pelage.

    We saw stags still holding groups of hinds in December. The earlier born calves could no doubt be covered by a stag in that case later in the year.

    As suggested, the sika rut, or maybe more accurately not a true rut but the ability for hinds to still come into oestrus may well go on much longer, especially as the last few seasons in September and October have been mild and true rutting behaviour sporadic at best.

    I am sure there was a figure issued a few years ago that suggested something like 30% of yearling sika hinds were pregnant in that first year. Happy to be corrected on that though.

    There is no doubt that the sika rut can drag over a long period and last season this was proven by hearing the first stag whistle in August (never heard one as early before) and seeing a stag holding a group in December.

    I think Jayb posted a photograph on here from a stalker friend of his who took the picture of a newborn sika calf in mid May???

    If a calf is early or late born, then surely that animal in turn will come into season in a similar vein to its mother as to when it reaches sexual maturity, thereby ensuring this 'change' in seasonal behaviour will continue.

  8. #8
    I would have thought that a figure of 30% of yearling Sika being in-calf to be a modest one. I posted three years ago to put on record the fact I had found a normal newborn Sika calf on the 10th of May. I agree with JRs theory that a late or early born calf will come into season at a time reflecting its birth month but only for its first season as other factors will have a greater impact in following years.

    What I find amazing is that for an animal with a seasonal breeding pattern( even a prolonged one) is that these ?early born calves have a successful mating aged 7 months maximum. The late born yearling will still be 13 or 14 months old when it enters the rut , twice the age. Yes the Sika is an amazing beast.

    David

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by David Brown View Post
    I would have thought that a figure of 30% of yearling Sika being in-calf to be a modest one. I posted three years ago to put on record the fact I had found a normal newborn Sika calf on the 10th of May. I agree with JRs theory that a late or early born calf will come into season at a time reflecting its birth month but only for its first season as other factors will have a greater impact in following years.

    What I find amazing is that for an animal with a seasonal breeding pattern( even a prolonged one) is that these ?early born calves have a successful mating aged 7 months maximum. The late born yearling will still be 13 or 14 months old when it enters the rut , twice the age. Yes the Sika is an amazing beast.

    David
    As I said, the 30% figure rings a bell but as you say may be well out in practice.

    It will no doubt vary from area to area as well with factors like pressure of numbers perhaps having an adverse effect on quality feeding hampering young hinds reaching sexual maturity/breeding size/weight??? I am only guessing at this last bit though...

    I wish I had taken the camera last year though when that young calf bounced into the field among the hinds and calves already there as there was such a difference in size. I saw its mother and she looked of normal size for mature hind with the comparison aginst the others to go by.

  10. #10

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