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Whole Herd Lepto Vaccination Reduces Fawn Wastage

This project proved that whole herd Lepto vaccination reduces fawn wastage and probably improves weaner growth rates.

The results are from two farms both of which have hinds which scan pregnant but fail to wean a fawn.


Farm One. On the smaller farm there is a known history of loss during pregnancy based on the uddering of all hinds (first calvers and MA hinds) prior to set stocking for calving. Although the numbers were not great the decision was made to start a whole herd Lepto vaccination programme. The effort and expense was worthwhile reversing the trend of several years with no losses during pregnancy in first calvers.

However, losses of around 4% were recorded in MA cows.

Another likely – but unproven -  benefit of the Lepto vaccination programme was improved weaner growth rate. This assumption is based on repeated Massey research trials of Red deer weaners vaccinated at weaning in March which were on average 6.5 kg heavier in November than their unvaccinated counterparts.

On our Advance Party all weaners were vaccinated and so there was not a unvaccinated control group. However, farm records showed the vaccinated 2015 born fawns were 4.5kg heavier than the average 1st December weight of R1 deer for the last 7 years.


Farm Two. The second and larger farm conducted a comparison trial with vaccinated and non-vaccinated groups of 170 second and third calvers.

Both  mobs were run separately right through until weaning but were managed the same  on self-feed pads in winter and on similar pasture covers.

The results were dramatic: the 85 vaccinated cows weaned 96% to the bull, wherease the  85 unvaccinated cows weaned 78%.  Needless to say all  cows will be vaccinated for Lepto this year.

Although neither farm had blood tested for Lepto the disease is widespread in NZ deer herds so the time and expense of checking for it is probably unjustified, AP Members Dave Lawrence says.

 “If you haven’t got it you are going to get it.”

With thanks to the Elk and Wapiti Society.