Bottle Feeding and Herd Health

Bottle babies sure keep the heard calm and their future fawns are calmer too.  On the other hand, a person needs the time & money.  Some bottle babies tend to be a bit smaller the first year and they would rather have you pet them, than run thru the handling system.  But calm deer sure are nice!

Some farms bottle all doe fawns, ½ of our adult does have been bottle fed, so we bottle only what we have to.  How do we start?  Mind you this is only one breeders choices, what works for one farm does not always work for all farms and the industry ‘strongly’ suggests not to pull and bottle feed a buck fawn, only to save the fawn.

Herd Health

We start mid March by worming/vaccinating all the deer.  We separate the does into their fawning pens (watch so their personalities match).  Running the deer through the handling facility, we gave the deer generic Ivomec injectable wormer, generic Tetradure 300 and Vitamin B.  We also vaccinated them with Covexin 8 and Fusogard.  These vaccines require a booster shot.  Well, good luck with that!  So, we bring the does thru the facility in March, they receive their yearly shot and we hope this will follow thru into the fawns.  We then vaccinate the fawns at 2 days old, considering this their booster and it has been working.  Why at 2 days old?  This is to allow their immune system to accept the vaccine.

Which Drugs to use?!?

Because of Cervid’s faster metabolism, it is suggested to increase bovine meds by 1.5 to 2x.  Be aware that at this time, Cervids are not listed on hardly any meds/vaccines.  This means we give ‘off label’ drugs.  Legally, your vet can only offer the amounts suggested on the label.  If your program is working, stick with it.  If you have had a problem in your herd and there is a vaccination or treatment for it, use it and keep your herd vaccinated, wormed and healthy!


This year we are trying the generic.  Wow, what a price difference!  A good practice is to check stool samples.  Checking the entire herd?  Take about a teaspoon from different fresh samples from one pen, put in one baggy.  This tests the entire pen.  If an isolated case, take in that one animals sample for a fecal float.  Check for worms/coccidiosis.

Tetradure 300

  • Again, we opted for the generic.
  • We give to relieve stress and for a 5-7 day antibiotic

Vitamin B

  • What a good stress reliever and immune booster!


Covexin 8

  • An eight way vaccine that covers Clostridium, Tetani types C & D and over eating disease.


  • Vaccinates against foot rot, lumpy jaw
  • It really works!


  • For E-Coli problems.
  • We will be giving it to our newborns in some manner again this year.

Make a list of what is needed for the nursery

  • Baby bottles with nipples, black lamb’s nipples or bottles with the Prichard nipple and 12-20 oz pop bottles.  (I start with the baby bottle & nipple and then when ounces exceed the bottle, I use a Pritchard nipple on a pop bottle.  I sterilize the baby bottles/nipples periodically and use the pop bottles for a week and throw away).
  • Baby wipes, non-surgical gloves (for the potty training).
  • 20 gauge-1/2” needles, syringes and heating pad.
  • Lactated ringers for dehydration and a tube for tube feeding.  What saves most fawns is re-hydration.  Warm up some ringers and give under skin (sub Q) at 20 cc per site and up to 200cc at one time.  Don’t forget to do it again if needed!
  • Electolytes:  a powdered product you mix up for hydration, can use human products.  I do not like the gel.
  • Ear tags with your premises ID number on the back and farm # on the front (suggestion, tag bucks in right ear and does in left).  It really aids in picking out the fawns in pens and nothing to do with the male always being right J!
  • Rectal thermometer (normal temp is 101-102).
  • Pepto Bismal- tablet & liquid, 2T per serving for a day or two to stop diarrhea.
  • 1% Iodine to apply on newborn navels some spray feet too (localize the iodine so not to burn off hair).
  • Pails of dirt.  If your bottle babies don’t have access to the ground after a couple weeks old, what I did then was plant a couple ice cream pails with alfalfa/clover and put it in there pens.  They need their dirt!  Best thing is to get them on grass as soon as possible.
  • Probiotics:  totally the most natural thing you can do to keep your critters gut healthy!!!  Adult to newborn!  Put it in your feed and give an oral boost for over stressed/sick animals.  We give the newborns an Oral tube of Lactobacillus/Acidophilis- I call it the Energizer Bunny from Cervid Health Poducts in WI.  Thanks Ray!
  • Bo-Se:  offers Vitamin E & Selenium.  This shot boosts their immune system.  We give ½ cc per fawn sub Q.
  • Milk Replacer – again how does a breeder know which one to use?  Ask your breeder friends.  Word of mouth is the best advertising.  Goat milk is the best, you can freeze it.  I use a powdered replacer.  What you start with, stick with it for the year.  Their little guts do not like change.  DON’T use a store bought unless it is for goats/kids.  Many producers of milk replacer in our industry.  DO NOT heat the prepared milk up in microwave, it depletes the nutritional value.
  • Colostrum. The most important nutrition for the first 12-24 hrs of their lives.  Suspecting a fawn did not get enough colostrum?  Is it under12-24 hrs?  Immediately upon pulling from doe, feed 2 to 4 oz every couple hours for the first 12-24 hrs.  There are powdered or paste supplements.  I trade the neighbor some of our venison sausage for a pail of fresh Dairy colostrum (use fresh goats also).  I then freeze it in two cup quantities for ease in a quick thaw when needed.  I buy a tube of colostrum paste for the penned raised newborns.
  • Corrid or Sulpha 12.5% works for coccidiosis.  This natural intestinal ailment comes from your ground.  It will kill the young.  They will experience diarrhea with a sickly look.  Most likely undetected in adults, but they to can surcome to this preventable problem.  Check with a stool sample.


Bottle feeding your babies!


  • We take the fawn from the doe most likely the 2nd night.  Before dark, we bring them into the garage, put them into a large dog kennel and leave them until morning.  The first feeding I start by making a clicking noise.  Their mother makes a noise to stimulate hunger.  I do this with my nose and those fawns know when it is time to eat. It really helps when someone doesn’t want to eat and/or won’t come to the bottle.
  • Floor safety:  no cement, linoleum or slippery surfaces.  They slip too easily.  I have washable foam mats to lay on the garage floor.
  • The industry states not to over feed the fawns.  Depending on the fawn size, I generally start with 2-4 oz each feeding, 5X per day, for the first 2 weeks. 2-4 weeks old 4-6 oz 4 X day. 4-6 wks, 6-8 oz 3X day and so on.  We wean fawns mid August.
  • To increase milk, I offer it at ½ -1oz increments.  NEVER change the recipe, just increase volume!  This will prevent scouring.
  • Potty training:  I wear non surgical gloves and use baby wipes to stimulate the fawn to defecate and urinate.  Must be done at least 3x per day, making sure you receive a BM for the day.  If the fawn is not stimulated, you will have a great chance of losing the fawn to constipation.  You will also catch any bowel problems.  They should be going on own by 2 to 3 weeks.  When you stop stimulating, continue to watch the pen floor to be assured the fawn is going on own.
  • When fawns are 1 to 2 weeks old, we separate fawns into their own grass pens outside with a small cover.  This stops any extra suckling they do to each other rectally and we can catch when a fawn scours.  When about 2 months old, we let 3 to 4 fawns together in a larger pen.  That is all the bottles I can hold for these now rambunctious fawns.
  • We offer fresh feed and water when they go outside.  Some fawns need to be encouraged to try something new.  Push a piece or two into their mouth.  Some need it softened a bit first with water/milk.  Now, they will be nibbling your feed by 2 to 3 weeks old and increasing their feed volume as they age.
  • Scours:  determine what it could be from.  Have you increased their milk volume?  Increasing to fast can cause scours.  We then offer electrolytes one feeding and milk the next, for a day or two.  We also offer an extra bottle of electrolytes on those really hot days.  They can drink as much as they want, but DO NOT mix with milk!
  • Bloody stools and bloated bellies are not a good sign!  Call a vet immediately and take him a stool sample.  You might be looking at clostridium or E-Coli and need to move quickly to save this fawn.  Isolate the fawn!
  • Worm your fawns.  We give safegaurd pellets late July, then an injectable after 21-28 days or visa versa
  • We do not bottle feed during our sleeping hours.
  • Keep your nursery and med cupboard stocked so you have it on hand for a late night or weekend.

There are many more tricks but I have run out of time and space for this article.  The best part is I am only a phone call away: 507-251-0626.
Julie Getschmann
Getschmann’s Wild Acres

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