How Many Babies Do Deer Have in a Lifetime?

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The average lifespan of a deer is about 12 years, and fawning is an annual event, so the question is how many babies do deer have in a lifetime? Since yearlings can start fawning and bear one or two fawns every year, female deer will produce between 20- 25 young ones during their lives.  

Breeding happens in the fall, and more than one buck can mate with the doe. She and the male deer will not form a pair bond.

After a gestation of approximately seven months, fawns or deer babies are born in spring and early summer. The doe initially gives birth to one fawn, but she will produce twins and sometimes triplets as she grows.

However, before doing the arithmetic, there are factors to consider when finding out how many babies deer have in a lifetime.

Factors That Affect Deer Breeding and Eventual Fawning

Natural Factors

Over most parts of the north, fawning happens from late April and early May. Deer have their babies much later in the southern part of the US and northern México, due to the drawn-out rut that can stretch from fall to early winter.

In northern climes, fawns born too early can succumb to the ravages of late snowstorms and the frigid nights. Being born too late may have the fawn not fully matured to handle the coming winter. 

A shorter breeding period will give the fawn ample chance at survival. However, a southern-born deer baby doesn’t have to worry about surviving the harsh climate that will soon face a fawn born in Minnesota. 

The driver of birth timings is aligning the fawning period with availability and abundance of forage. Demands of lactation and the energies spent watching over the newborn require that timing be perfect.

Doe milk contains three times the amount of protein and fat that a domestic cow had. This results in the newborn deer babies gaining between five and ten percent of their birth weight for each day of the first couple of weeks.

It’s essential for a doe to get undisturbed nursing so that the newborn fawn can develop rapidly and survive climatic and predatory hazards. 

Do Deer Birthing Habits Affect How Many Fawns They Can Produce in a Lifetime?

A female deer has four teats with which to nurse babies, just like cows. A year when nutrition is readily available does have twins or even triplets.

Does sometimes give birth and leave their babies, but don’t judge them as bad mothers. Since the fawn is not yet strong enough to keep up with its mother, the doe leaves to divert any undue predator attention lurking nearby.

It’s been said that fawns have no scent and therefore can’t be located by a hungry coyote, but the number of newborn deer babies ravaged by coyotes has dispelled this notion.

The leaving of fawns after being dropped by their mother is primarily by design. This gives the fawn enough time to catch their strength so they can outrun potential predators. 

Another ploy that’s been noted is that of licking the baby by the doe. Related to removing the birthing scent that would attract a sharp-nosed predator, this also allows camouflage spots to show, hiding the fawn more effectively. 

Deer fawns can lie hidden for nearly a week, where the doe frequents to nurse and watch over them. This is opposed to a bigger game animal like moose or bison that follows their mums shortly after being born.

Breeding Discrepancies Arising From Poor Deer Habitat or Density

When fawns are about six months old, they start coming into estrus in North America. The first time a young doe gives birth, it’s commonly to one fawn.

Twins start appearing in the second year of fawning, and the consecutive years. This means that a single fawn is an oddity rather than the norm, depending on food and water availability.

When the pickings are good in a typical deer herd, there will be at least 50% of does that will breed. When the habitat is unsuitable, no doe will become sexually active until they’re one and a half years old.

Their first fawn will be born at two years old, decreasing the number of babies the doe will bear in her lifetime. Whether twins will be delivered in the second and proceeding birthing years also hinges on habitat and deer population densities.

Predators and Their Effect on Deer Birthing 

Let’s say that you were given the task of counting the babies an elderly doe has had in her lifetime. One of the obstacles you’ll quickly encounter is how many she’s lost to the weather, predators, or disease.

Fawns are programmed to lie in hiding about 90% of their first few weeks. They sometimes stumble upon by hungry coyotes, bobcats, foxes, wolves, or bears.

Some predators will actively smell out the fawns hiding place. Wolves especially have been known to follow pregnant does to known fawning territories. More than once, a wolf or coyote has been observed, pulling the yet to be born fawn out of the mother’s birthing canal and gobbling it up.

How Many Times Will a Doe Have Twins or Triplets?

The birth of twins and triplet fawns are a factor to consider when comprehensively answering ‘how many babies do deer have in a lifetime?’ 

A doe with twins is a common sight, and triplets are not uncommon among healthy deer populations. High-quality habitat and balance in deer numbers leave 15 to 20% off does bearing triplets.

Twins and triplets will exponentially increase in the number of babies that doe will produce in her lifetime. An average female deer in a vibrant and well-spaced population will end up bearing more fawns.

Habitat quality means low density, and where does are well harvested alongside bucks, triplets can appear.

Another point to note is that twins and triplets in deer don’t necessarily share the same dad. According to research, two different bucks sire around 20 to 25% of all twin deer fawns. 

Researchers from Alabama’s Auburn University recently observed a case of multiple paternities in triplet deer babies.

This signifies that hunting bucks do not affect the number of babies born to a doe during her life.

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