Whilst much of the quality and yield of velvet from your stags is due to their genetics it is necessary to optimise feeding them at critical times to realise the full potential of the genetic progress that has been made in recent years.
One of the critical times for feeding velveting stags is in the immediate pre- button casting phase. It is important in the month or so prior to button-drop to provide stags with a lift in quality feed. During the spring velvet growth rates of around 2-3 cm/day can be achieved but the penalty for sub-optimal nutrition will be a delayed casting which can significantly reduce velvet yields by up to 20%.
Spring pasture is very high in protein and can be a great feed for velvet production but it needs to be 10-14 cm in height and unsoiled to be optimal. If good leafy pasture like this is not available then it is important to offer them high-quality supplements. Speciality baleage made from chicory, red clover or lucerne can be an excellent supplement. This can be fed ad lib with 1.2kg of whole grain/head/day. PKE, or processed feed nuts, are an excellent source of nutrition if quality pasture is short. It is not necessary however to offer stags high cost feeds if an adequate supply is available as it will not increase velvet yields.
When feeding out supplement to stags, it is important to ensure it is well spread out to avoid fighting.
This is also a timely reminder for those of you who still have work to do on your velveting facilities to bring them up to scratch to comply with the new regulations. For more in-depth information go to deernz.org You can also call us for advice or to book a velveting appointment.