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Light Makes Deer Heavy

Exposing deer to extra light during winter is a straightforward and effective means of boosting their weight at slaughter, by bringing forward the growth that normally starts in spring, judging by trials at AgResearch Invermay over the last three years.

"We strongly recommend that additional light be provided as early as possible in autumn and that this should continue until spring," says AgResearch scientist Dr Jimmy Suttie. "If the deer are kept on the additional light until spring, the effect will last until the deer reach slaughter weight.

After an initial six weeks of exposure to extra "daylight", farmers then have to increase the amount of feed available, to allow the animals to take advantage of their growth potential.

It has been found that once the programme begins, it has to be run continuously. Giving the additional light only on some days and not others not only fails to induce an early growth period, but may also reduce the true spring growth in September and October.