Lowe cost, alternative strategies for deer production are needed in order for venison to compete with other meats. Current work is showing promise but further work is needed to better define alternative options for the industry. During the second summer, at 10-16 months of age, the value of different sward types in terms of height and clover content are producing large animal effects, and the strategic use of such swards within the grazing period will be addressed in the proposed project. During the second winter, at 16-22 months of age, growth of deer has been small, even on high energy diets, and in the proposed work the effects of level of nutrition at different phases of the winter, and the diet types designed to manipulate tissue development, will be investigated to more precisely define feeding strategies during this period.
In contrast, very large compensatory growth effects have been demonstrated durring the third summer, from 22 months of age until slaughter, following a `store` winter. The management of deer at pasture during the period before slaughter will be investigated in more detail in order to address the current identified problem of overfat carcasses. This will involve comprehensive caracass assessments to be carried out by Bristol University. The project as a whole will recieve wide publicity to both industry and scientific audiences, and through articles and the production of a booklet summarising the results at the end of the project.