Title:  Feeding and body composition studies with white-tailed deer in West Virginia.
Author(s): Sookha, R., R. L. Reid, R. Blauweikel, and R. Thompson.
Year: 1990
Abstract: In a cooperative study between West Virginia University and West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, longissimus dorsi muscles from adult deer (25) harvested in four West Virginia counties were analyzed and compared with muscles from pigs, sheep and cattle. Lipid content was lowest (0.6%) in deer muscle and highest in beef (10.7%), with pork and lamb intermediate. Among deer samples, fat content did not differ significantly with age of animal or with location (county). Cholesterol and protein concentrations were highest in deer muscle. Mineral concentrations also differed between species, and there were significant location effects for certain elements. Current studies are comparing the body and muscle composition of wild deer with that of deer raised in pens on high concentrate diets and slaughtered at 16 months. A limited number of feeding trials have been run to compare feed utilization and digestive kinetics between young deer and ram lambs. Eight 9-month-old male deer were trained to metabolism crates and fed a high energy diet at controlled and ad libitum intake; solids passage rates and retention times were estimated using a Yb marker. Dry matter, NDF, ADF and protein digestibilities were similar between deer and lambs. Solids passage rates were significantly higher, and rumen retention times shorter, for deer than for sheep. The mortality rate of orphaned fawns raised in pens has been high, apparently due to Salmonella infection.

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