How To Care For A Newborn Fawn? [Complete Care Guide]


how to care for a newborn fawn

What happens if you wake up in the morning and find an abandoned baby deer in your backyard? Or if you are a deer farmer, what will you do if a doe in your farm has rejected her newborn baby?

Similarly, if a dam at your farm dies, will you leave her fawn to die? Obviously not! If you are a resident of a deer rich area, at some point in your life you may require to hand-rear a fawn/calf. What should be your strategy in all these scenarios?

Don’t worry Dude, we are here to solve all of your concerns related to caring for a newborn fawn.

Are you ready to join us on this exciting journey? If yes then read this article till the end.

Do you know how to care for a newborn fawn? Normally, the first step of newborn fawn care is to assess whether it needs to be rescued or not. Determining the right age of the abandoned/ orphaned baby deer, and you should provide the basic needs to the fawn-like postnatal care, feed, shelter, and health care. 

 Normally, for the female deer who are less than one year old, the fawning season starts from May 12 to June 27. While for the young female deer that were bred at the age of 6 months old, the birthing season starts from May 22 to August 4. You will see a lot of deer babies at this peak time of the year and they all do not need to be rescued. The mama deer leaves her baby after birth, bonds only for a small time, nurses and goes in search of food within an area of 90 meters. She is fully alert about the fawn and can come back at any time. The newborn is smart enough to select its bedding area by itself.

Saving a deer baby who doesn’t need to be rescued at all can create a lot of problems for you. So, read this article to know the conditions in which it is critical to saving a deer kid. 

What to Do With An Abandoned Fawn

If you discover a newborn deer baby in the wild, and the mother is not nearby, you must wait and not touch the fawn. The reason is when you will touch him, you will transfer your scent, and if the mother returns she will not accept her baby because the doe stays away when she detects human presence in that area. Normally, the mama deer hides her baby in the early weeks of life and goes away in search of food in an area of a 90meters. She can return as soon as 40 minutes or a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 48 hours.

A mother deer imprints her baby within 24 hours of birth. That’s why any interruption during this time may lead to mismothering. However, the fawn takes about a week or two in imprinting his mom due to underdeveloped scent glands. You can notice that that young deer in the early weeks of life freezes when you bother him. The weak imprinting instincts make him attracted to every moving object. After two weeks, he will be able to recognize the mother and run away when you will move towards him.

So, the following points should be kept in mind when you find a young deer alone.

  • If you find the baby deer in a high traffic area, take him to a nearby safe place. Remember to use a towel rubbed in the grass to avoid scent transfer.
  • If you see a nursing female deer dead close to the fawn, you can consider him as an orphan, but to confirm you should wait for at least one day keeping an eye on the baby activity.
  • You cannot hand-raise deer and elk babies unless you have a permit.
  • If you find fawn deer at your property, contact wildlife rehabilitation, they will determine whether the deer is orphaned or the mother has just left her for some time.
  • Now, if you notice that the baby is dehydrated, lethargic, or injured, you must help by keeping in mind the scent transfer related precautions.
  • If a doe has died at your farm or a dam has rejected her baby, then you have to hand raise that fawn otherwise he may die.
  • Being wild animals, it is not easy to manage young deer as a pet. It can cost approximately 500 dollars. Plus, they will grow to become big animals that are not easy to handle at home.
  • It is better recommended to hand over these fragile creatures to the wild rehab services. If they are reluctant, offer some funding to bring up the baby.
  • If the services are late and the life of the fawn is in danger, you must take basic first aid steps to save the little soul. 
  • If you have gone through the permitting process and want to raise the baby, then it’s great…

5 Reasons why a doe abandon her fawn

It is very important to discuss why a mother deer rejects her baby. It will help deer farmers to assess the situation and plan accordingly. Here are some reasons that will make you understand the postnatal behavior of this wild mammal.

  1. In some cases, red deer and fallow deer need C section while birthing. That is why human interference leads to the rejection of the baby by the mother. She will not nurse the fawn and in this situation, the fawn should be removed instantly from the mother.
  1. The newborns at the farm are tagged instantly, during this process, if you have touched the still wet deer without gloves, there are more chances that the dam will refuse to own the fawn. But it is also seen that in comparison with the wild deer, the farm deer somehow accepts the baby, even after human touch, if it is placed at the same spot from where it was taken away before tagging.
  1. If the mama deer has gone through difficult birthing(dystocias), even if no human hand has helped her, still the traumatic birth makes her deny young ones.
  1. If the deer farmers cause an excessive interruption in the birthing area, the mother will likely refuse to own the newborn. That’s why such excessive disturbance should be avoided. Keep an eye from a safe distance if needed.
  1. There are many incidences recorded that show that the female deer that becomes a mother for the first time, often do not accept her newborns. Many whitetails often give birth to twins. If fortunately, they have triplets, the third baby would be like an unwanted baby that will become a candidate for being hand-raised by the farm owner.

How To care For A Newborn/Orphaned Fawn

If you have decided to raise a newborn fawn at your property, and you are new with the least knowledge about this, it may be a little bit difficult for you. However, deer farmers can go through this situation at any point in their life, so they are experienced enough to tackle things properly.

You should not be worried, as we are going to discuss every aspect of the young deer care. By reading this, you can easily save a life, plus you can make a young deer strong enough to cope with the dangers of the wild.

How To Tell The Age Of Abandoned Fawn

If you are going to rescue an abandoned deer kid, how will you know its feeding needs properly without determining its age? That’s why it is very important to learn about how old the deer baby is. 

The following points may help you in determining the age of a fawn/calf.

  • If you see the umbilical cord on the fawn belly, it means it is less than a week old.
  • The newborn fawns walk with shaky legs for about two weeks after birth. So, a wobbly walk may indicate that the baby is less than 2 weeks old.
  • The weight of the deer baby at birth is approximately 6 pounds that increase gradually with time. If you have a chance of picking the baby(it is discouraged in normal circumstances) you can guess its average age.
  • If the deer kid is foraging it means it is more than 2 weeks old because less than two weeks old deer babies don’t eat greens.
  • When these fragile creatures are born, they have a reddish-brown fur with clear white spots on their back, these spots begin to fade at 3 to 4 months of age.

Postnatal Care Of Newborn Fawn Right After Birth

In a deer farming environment, if a dam dies during delivery, the fawn is considered an orphan. Your next obstacle is how to save a new baby in absence of the mother. In natural birth, the doe cleans the fawn and helps him to dry completely. But in this unfortunate case, the main concern is hypothermia that can prove fatal. After birth, the young deer is chilled and its body temperature falls quickly. Now, it’s your responsibility to immediately dry him and provide extra heat from a safe distance.

The steps that you can follow to save the fawn from hypothermia are:

  • Take the newborn deer instantly in a warm room and rub a dry towel slowly on his body.
  • Use a heat lamp at a safe distance to benefit the hypothermic baby.
  • You should focus the heat on the chest area and check its intensity by placing your hand. Remember not to exceed the safe distance as it can cause burns. 
  • Wrap the fawn or elk baby with a dry towel as it will help in retaining the body heat of the newborn.
  • You should keep on replacing the towel as if you will continue shifting the sides of the same towel, it can give stress and anxiety to the infant deer.
  • Once the fawn regains its body temperature, it can be very active, so all the electrical appliances and heat sources must be carefully managed.
  • Now the young offspring will select its comfort zone by itself and lay down at a safe distance.
  • Cleaning the naval regularly for 3 days with iodine tincture is very important to avoid naval infections.

What To Feed A Newborn Fawn

You have successfully rescued the baby deer from hypothermia but the next episode is pretty much tough. If you are new you might wonder about what and how to feed a newborn fawn.

Though you cannot become a mom for a deer baby, still, you can try your best to fulfill the nutritional needs of this fragile creature.

 The infant needs colostrum within the first 12 hours of life. It not only helps in fighting diseases but also acts as a laxative in the digestion process. Some wise deer farmers used to collect and freeze all the deer and goat colostrum and give it to young offsprings when needed. The frozen colostrum can maintain its quality for 6 months. You can also contact a farmer to get it, but if it is not possible, feed colostrum supplements like ultra start multi colostrum supplement to the baby deer for the first two to three days after every three to four hours.

Fawn Milk Replacer

After two to three days, it’s time to switch on the milk replacer. Goat milk is the best milk replacer for the fawns. Plus it is easily available at superstores. You should not feed them cow milk as it can cause tummy upsets. If goat milk is not available, milk replacer formula is also an option that is given 2 -4 oz per feeding every three to four hours in the first three days after birth.

How to feed a Newborn Fawn

Feeding newbie is a gradual process likewise other mammals. There are two methods used to feed the young deer.

 So, have a look at these methods to learn more:

Bottle Feeding

 For feeding, you can use special pet bottles or simply the feeders used traditionally for human infants with silicone nipples. Some farmers have described their experience that these infants like the old styled nipples as compared to new fashionable silicone nipples. A healthy deer easily learns to suckle within no time. But sometimes force-feeding becomes necessary to teach the young ones.

It is very important to keep the milk bottles clean, and the milk formula should not be prepared in advance. It can cause bacterial growth that can lead to diarrhea and infections. You can use a baby bottle sterilizer for your convenience.

Tube Feeding

Sometimes, the newborn may have a problem in latching, or they are weak, dehydrated, or hypothermic, and if they are unwilling to bottle feed, tube feeding is critical to saving the baby. For this purpose, a tube is passed through the mouth into the stomach. The milk replacer and other electrolytes are administered through this tube. The tube insertion must be carried by the vet because if you will accidentally enter the tube in the breathing section, it may result in pneumonia. Once the young ones have recovered, you can continue bottle feed. 

How Often To Feed A Newborn Fawn

The feeding needs of the infant deer changes quickly in the first weeks of life. In the first 48 hours, they need colostrum after every three to four hours. When the fawn is newborn and trying to bottle feed, you should fill the bottle with 1 _ 2 oz at a time. It will prevent milk wastage and when the young deer will learn how to suckle, you can gradually increase the milk quantity.

 For your convenience, we have mentioned a feeding table below. You can follow this schedule to bottle feed the baby deer.

Age of fawn/calf in days/weeksQuantity of milk replacer per timeThe feed timings
1_3 days2 _3 ozEvery 3 _4 hours 
4_7 days3 _4 ozEvery 3_4 hours
2 weeks4_6 ozEvery 3_4 hours
3_4 weeks6_8 ozEvery 4 hours
5 weeks10 oz Every 5 hours
6 weeks12 oz3 times a day
7 weeks14 oz2 times a day
8 weeks16 oz2 times a day
9_12 weeks18 ozOnce-daily

After 9 to 12 weeks, you should wean the fawn gradually. While preparing the formula, the water temperature should be 115-120ºF. Use fennel to fill the milk in bottles. Feeding the milk at this temperature will make the baby consume a good quantity at a time.

How To Introduce Solids In A Newborn Fawn Diet

 At the age of 2 weeks, these mammals can forage greens like clover and alfalfa. Apart from bottle feeding, introduce greens in their diet and let them sniff and lick. In this way, they will start eating solids. Deer are ruminants and they like to eat Elm, Willow, Poplar. Maple, Apple, Oak Dogwood, and many other Forbes.

 You must offer fresh water to these little creatures from the first day. It is also recommended to feed them black unfertilized soil from your yard. It contains good bacteria that will prepare their gut in the digestion of plants.

How To Treat Diarrhoea In A Newborn Fawn

Diarrhea is the most common health issue that can happen to the infant deer. It can be proved fatal if not cured. Normally, the fecal droppings of fawn should be separate and firm. If you notice the green stool with a thin consistency, it may be the indication of gastroenteritis infection caused by some bacteria or virus. This condition can cause dehydration and the energy level of baby deer drops quickly.

Below mentioned steps can help you in curing indigestion in a newborn fawn.

  • Make sure to give plenty of water to the young deer to retain body fluids.
  • Baby deer have a habit of suckling each other’s butts, it can also cause diarrhea. You can stop this by spraying vinegar at their buts after every defecation.
  • Add half of the milk replacer and half electrolyte solution to fulfill the need of lost nutrients in the body.
  • You can give 1_2 tbsp of Pepto Bismol, after every feeding until the stool consistency becomes thicker.
  • You can give one tablespoon of yogurt along with pureed pumpkin in the bottle to maintain healthy bacteria in the gut.
  • If diarrhea doesn’t stop, it can be an indication of coccidiosis, contact your vet, and follow his guidelines.

Note: The mentioned medicines should only be given unless or otherwise prescribed by a qualified vet.

How Long Does A Newborn Fawn Go Without Eating

In the wild, the deer mom leaves the baby after birth and only visits when it’s time for nursing. It is a strategy of survival in the wild that prevents predators from attracting these animals. Normally, a doe comes to nurse a fawn/calf at dawn and dusk timings when it is still dark.

 If you find a newborn fawn then it is the most important query that how long it can go without eating. Research has shown that in the wild, fawns can go without eating for a maximum of 48 hours and a minimum of 24 hours. The female deer in the wild usually weans her babies on average 9 to 12 weeks. They can live without milk at this stage.

 The research about the farm fawns shows that they need to feed after about every three hours in the first three days of their life. If this schedule is not followed, there are more chances that the newborn can suffer from dehydration which can prove fatal. After 2 weeks, they can forage on greens and can survive if milk is not available, but they will become weak because milk is a basic need for their growth. Eventually, they may face a lot of health problems and are more likely to die if not feed at all.

How To Care For A Newborn Fawn? [Complete Care Guide]

What To Do If The Baby Deer Won’t Eat

If you meet a baby deer who is not willing to eat at all, it doesn’t mean that he is angry. It is the sign of some serious condition like certain illness and dehydration.

 How will you evaluate that fawn is suffering from dehydration? You can check by tenting the area between the shoulder blades. If the skin comes back to its normal position, it means that the fawn is ok. But if the skin has lost turgor due to a deficiency of electrolytes, it will not come back to its position which indicates severe dehydration. If a baby deer completely refuses to eat, it means that he will deny bottle feed. So, it is critical to hydrate the baby first. 

Below mentioned tips will help in treating dehydration, plus stimulate the young deer to bottle feed.

  • Use tube feeding to give electrolyte drink every two hours.
  • You can also use a syringe to feed milk replacer if possible.
  • Once the fawn has got enough nutrients, hopefully, he will be able to get up and accept the bottle for feeding.
  • If the fawn/calf is still refusing to suckle, you can try force-feeding the baby.
  • Take the little soul in your lap, wrap your arm over its back, hold its legs so that he might not try to escape. Now open the mouth using fingers and pop the nipple in.
  • Keep on squeezing and releasing the bottle, it will allow the milk to flow in the mouth.

Soon the deer kid will start suckling after realizing the taste of milk.

  • Use a wet towel and keep on wiping slowly the back of the fawn. It will stimulate the baby to consume more milk and defecate. The mother deer used to do the same in the wild.
  • You can also add strawberry yogurt or simply dip the nipple in molasses syrup. By doing this, the kid will like the sugary taste and start feeding by himself.

How To Tame A Baby Deer

All of us know that deer are wild animals. You can tame them but over time, you will realize your mistake. Let’s discuss all the aspects of taming wild animals.

If you will mess with the wild, it can be proved dangerous. Similarly, you cannot make wolves, bears, wild dogs, or coyotes as your pets. Young deer can be tamed easily by your love and affection if their age is less than 2 weeks. As this creature is designed to adjust in the wild, taming them will remove the human fear and they will no more be able to cope with the dangers of the wild. Once they will grow up, they may behave just like a member of their species.

A fully grown deer can be extremely aggressive in the mating and rutting season. In a farming environment, the fully grown males are often cauterized to save other animals on the farm. While hand-raising a fawn at your home, you must be aware of risks. They have a weapon of antlers that can make you badly injured. If you have rescued a baby fawn then it’s good. However, it is highly recommended to leave it in the wild or hand over to wild rehab centers to avoid any potential damage in the future.

Final Words

Finally, our topic regarding newborn fawn care comes to an end.

I hope you have enjoyed every aspect of this informative article.

 After reading this amazing piece of knowledge, you will surely feel a strong urge of becoming a deer mom.

 Wait! It can be dangerous. So, think well before approaching an abandoned fawn. Don’t mess with the wild.

However, if you own a deer farm, this information will help you a lot. So, don’t forget to share this article with other fellows.

Roland Carroll

Hi, This is Roland. I love Hunting and it's my hobby. I love to share my hunting experience in this blog. Keep reading all the articles here and let me know what do you think about this site.

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