Ask The Biologist

Youth Movement

Youth Movement

By Bob Humphrey

You might be surprised at how many young bucks participate in breeding.

QUESTION:I always thought the dominant buck in an area would do most of the breeding, but one of my friends said all the bucks, including the young ones, breed does. Can you tell me if this is true? If it is, will that result in poorer genes?

ANSWER: The picture becomes clearer with a little simple math. Most adult does enter estrus in a relatively narrow window, roughly 10-14 days. A buck might remain with an estrous doe for 24-48 hours before breeding her. In between encounters, he has to go out and find another receptive doe, so one buck would be doing well do breed a half dozen does during peak rut. Meanwhile, other bucks are ready, willing and able to do the same.

That being said, a lot depends on sex and age ratios within the herd. Older bucks tend to be more successful breeders because they’re more experienced and can intimidate younger bucks. If the buck-to-doe ratio is skewed toward does, there will be more of them around, providing more opportunity for younger bucks to breed them.

Also, if age distribution is young, there will be more younger bucks around to take advantage of peak estrus while the older bucks are occupied.

All that is why maintaining more natural age and sex ratios are better for the overall health of the herd.

That said, it has been happening for a long time, and the record book people have never been busier. Outside of pens, it’s very difficult to affect the genes of a given herd.

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