Deer only have one breeding season per year, and deer can give birth to between one and three fawns each breeding season.
The babies are often born from April through July. The greatest number of deer babies are born in June. Most females give birth to between one to three babies at one time. The birth cycles happen each year at the same period.
The average white tail deer lives for 4 and a half years, meaning each deer may only have about 3 breeding seasons in her lifetime.
How many Times can a Deer get Pregnant?
The female can get pregnant once a year. Depending on the species of deer, females can have one to three babies at once.
Deer mate only once per year. Their mating seasons vary depending on where the deer lives. Various factors affect the time mating season begins and ends. These includes the length of day and weather conditions.
The length of the mating season also varies yearly. Deer mate according to the seasons. Mating season is most likely to end early if winter comes earlier than expected.
Various factors indicate the beginning of the mating season. Male deer antlers are usually completely developed as mating season approaches.
They break away from the groups they used to live in and become solitary. Fights are also frequent with each male fighting for dominance and the right to mate.
Female deer also act differently during mating season. They call on to males when in heat. The animals also become less cautious and make more noise than usual.
Read More: What Noises Can Deer Make?
When do Different Deer Species Mate?
Deer mating seasons varies from place to place. They usually give birth when the babies are most likely to survive, in the height of summer when food is plentiful.
For white tailed deer, mating season lasts from October to December. Female deer usually give birth to 1 – 3 babies after mating. It takes six months for the baby to fully develop after fertilization.
For elk, their mating season is between September and October. During rut bulls dig up wallows, urinate in them and roll in the soil giving each bull a unique scent that attracts females. Bulls build up harems of female cows with whom they mate with. Cow gestation period is between 240 to 262 days. The cow then gives birth to only one calf.
Moose’ mating seasons begins in early fall. The cows attract males with deep calls and the production of a strong sent. Females give birth to only one calf at a time. Their gestation period is 243 days.
As for caribou, mating season ranges from between October and November. The female’s gestation period is usually between 7 to 8 months when they give birth one or two calves.
How long does a Deer Stay with its Mother?
Deer stay with their mother until they able to survive on their own. The male deer remain for one year before leaving their mothers, while the female deer remain for up to two years.
During the first months after birth, the fawn appears to be weak; hence their mother takes the responsibility of feeding it until it becomes strong.
The fawn is more vulnerable to dangers; thus it is often hidden in the vegetation the mother feeds. The mother returns during the dawn and dusk to regularly feed the fawn.
Deer hide their fawn while feeding for them not to be targeted by predators. When young, baby deer cannot take care of themselves when attacked. Their legs are not well developed for fast getaways.
Doe also take various precautions to protect the hidden fawn. When the fawn is born, the doe uses its tongue to lick the fawn, hiding the scent that might alert the predators when the fawn is in hiding.
In addition, the doe might also devour the fawn’s droppings to hide the evidence of its presence.
Within the first weeks, the fawn stays alone in the meadow. The mother only comes to nurse it when it needs essentials such as food to prevent predators from discovering the fawn’s position.
The mother keeps changing the fawn’s bed sites. When the female deer has borne twins, she separates the fawns to reduce their chances of being discovered.
Why do Deer Engage in Seasonal Breeding?
Deer breeding occurs with variations. Variations such as the weather, rainfall, and day length engage in seasonal breeding.
Biologists argue the male deer starts its preparation for the rut in the early fall. The rut happens to be seasonal; hence breeding in the deer family becomes seasonal.
Deer also chose to mate and give birth during seasons when their off springs have a higher chance of survival. Deer also undergo various body changes, especially hormonal changes before mating. These changes are usually affected by seasonal changes.
Can Deer have Babies During the Winter?
Although uncommon, deer can have babies during winter. Winters are becoming milder due to climate change, so more food is available year-round for baby deer.
Though the climate affects hormones and changes the patterns of pregnancy, research shows that the birth date of the fawns are little off but the fawns are still able to make it.
Factors such as having a new, thicker coat are essential for the survival of the fawn during winter. The coat protects the fawn from the cold weather.
Doe also search for warm places to hide their fawn. They look for places that are shielded from the harsh winds and snow that would otherwise kill their fawn.
They prefer sheltering under coniferous trees when the conditions are cold. The thorns trap snow and block the deer against strong cold winds.
Without protection, fawns would have a hard time surviving the harsh conditions because their bodies have not developed well to be able to accommodate the drastic weather change.
It is also important to note that because of the lack of enough food the mothers tend to stop producing enough milk to sustain the fawns.
Do Deer Mate for Life?
Deer do not mate for life. The male deer usually mate with many females over their lifetime.
Before the mating season begins, the males travel with other males while the females travel together in herds with their fawn. During the mating season, the males become solitary with each individual struggling to find a female to mate with.
This action increases the chances of finding a female to breed because the males won’t have to fight within their group to mate unless they come across another male vying for the same female.
Deer have babies once per year throughout their mature lifespan, and usually only live for about 4 to 5 years due to disease and predation. So, the average deer might only have about 3 fawns in her lifetime, given that a deer usually only has 1 to 2 fawns per pregnancy.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.