The Fallow Deer is a typically slender, medium sized deer that is very distinctive in appearance because of its characteristic markings. It is
usually not as stocky as many other species of deer; however, when captive raised and fed like other livestock, mature fallow deer can be
quite large. The Fallow Deer has a very graceful appearance, which along with its placid temperament has made it a popular parkland
The summer coat is distinctive in coloration and patterning, most animals having flanks that are a pale chestnut brown color, dappled with
white spots. The belly and lower parts of the neck are usually white. The insides of the legs are also pale in color or white. The summer
coat is short and shiny. The winter coat is longer and more drab in color, growing from late autumn onward. During the winter months, the
coat is darker in color than the summer coat; and the flank spots may disappear. The winter coat is shed in the spring.
The rump patch stands out well and is a large white disk of fur, bordered by a black rim. The tail is long and has a black tip, making it
conspicuous against the white of the rump patch.
Although most animals are a chestnut brown color, there are a number of different color variations. Some are all white, a few (commonly
called chocolate) are a deep, dark brown, and some are almost black. The spotted Fallow Deer are referred to as either English Spot,
where the belly and legs are typically white; or the Mineal, where the belly and legs are more brown.
The males, known as bucks, are larger and heavier in size than the females, or does. The bucks tend to have larger, more muscular
necks than the females, particularly during the mating season, and have a prominent larynx or “Adam’s apple”. Bucks also grow antlers
each year, which the does do not. The antlers are shed in late winter, and a new set begins to grow almost immediately, first in “velvet”.
The antlers reach their full size by late summer, the velvet is shed, and the antlers are ready to use in the fall mating season.
The antlers in the Fallow Deer are very impressive. Unlike most other deer, the antlers of the Fallow Deer are broad and flattened, or
“palmated”, similar to a moose. The antlers grow to over 30 inches in length. The tines at the front and middle of the antlers are the
longest, with the other tines mainly being extensions of the large, flattened blade. The size of the antlers depends on the age of the buck,
with mature males having the largest and strongest antlers.
Habitat and Distribution
During and shortly after the last ice age, Fallow Deer were found in North Africa, Asia Minor and parts of the Middle East and Balkans;
however, early hunting by man soon reduced this range until they were found only in Asia Minor. Ancient sailors such as the Phoenicians
introduced the deer to new locations around the Mediterranean and increased its range. The Romans continued this process. Later still,
nobles stocked their hunting estates with Fallow Deer and further increased its range during the Middle Ages. In Victorian times, it became
a popular parkland animal of rich gentry.
Today, the Fallow Deer is found in many European countries. It remains a popular parkland deer, and many are privately kept both in
Europe and the United States. There are also a large number of wild living populations in Europe. In the United States, almost all Fallow
Deer are captive raised and kept.
Semi-wild or captive deer generally have a lifespan of about 11 to 15 years, some even longer. Our oldest doe lived well into her twenties.
Fallow Deer in the wild do not live as long and are lucky to reach 7 or 8 years of age.
Fallow Deer are mostly grazers, feeding on grasses and a variety of herbaceous plants. They also often feed on trees and shrubs. In
areas where they are kept, they will eat the lower parts of trees as high as they can reach. Warning – some shrubbery are poisonous to
Fallow Deer and other animals and should not be fed to them!
The breeding season, or rut as it is known in deer, takes place during the late autumn and early winter, usually between October and
December. During the rut, the males become extremely excited and form small territories that they mark and fiercely defend from other
males. Bucks can be extremely vocal during the rutting season. The males attempt to collect together and breed with small groups of
females. Bucks may fight over females, using their antlers in ritualized contest to determine which male is strongest.
The fawns are born after a gestation period of close to 8 months. Each female usually bears a single fawn, usually sometime between
early- to late- June. Occasionally, captive does will fawn later on in summer and very rarely on into early fall. The fawns are left by the
mothers in long grass or in concealed clumps of vegetation, where the fawns remain motionless, waiting for the mother to return, which
she does several times a day to allow the fawn to nurse. The fawns remain hidden for the first couple of weeks of their life, after which they
begin to accompany their mothers. Their spotted coats help them to remain camouflaged in long vegetation. They become sexually
mature from a year of age, with the males reaching maturity slightly later than the females.
Fallow Deer are gregarious animals, living in small herds. The sexes live separately, with the females and the young living away from the
male herds. Older males are typically more solitary. Within the wild herds, there is a strict dominance hierarchy, with certain individuals
leading the group to new locations to feed and rest. Feeding mostly takes place at dawn and dusk, with Fallow Deer resting throughout
much of the day. When kept in parks or enclosures, Fallow Deer can become remarkably tame and undisturbed by the presence of
people. As with any animal, bottle fed Fallow Deer become extremely tame and will follow you around, chew on your shirttail, etc. We do
not recommend bottlefeeding buck fawns, as they lose their natural fear of people and can become very dangerous during the rutting
The Fallow Deer runs in a distinctive, stiff-legged fashion, bouncing along as if on a pogo stick. This is referred to as “pronking”. The
Fallow Deer has an “alerting” behavior during which members of the herd or individual deer assume a rigid, upright stance and stiff walk
with neck extended. The tail elevation indicates the degree of disturbance. Often, they will “thump” the ground with one front leg. When
alarmed or nervous, Fallow Deer utter a sound similar to a dog’s bark. Other vocalizations include: bleating by a pregnant female or a
female with fawns; the peeping of a fawn to contact or alerts its mother; wailing by a fawn in distress; and the bucks' belch-like sound that
lasts about a second but may occur in a series, and resembles the sound of a bullfrog. This sound is particularly noticeable during rutting
Click here for instructions on how to bottle feed Fallow Deer fawns.