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Skeletal development in the blacktail deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) Addison, Ralor Blendle

Abstract

Seventeen male deer fawns of the year (Odocoileus hemionus colum- bianus) were raised to ages of four or six months. During this time, the nutrition of these animals was controlled so that five different patterns of alimentation were produced. The changes in the growth increments of the various regions of the skeleton with the pattern of alimentation were documented. An analysis of the changes led to an interpretation of the relative growth priority exhibited by each skeletal element up to four months, and from four to six months of age. The magnitude of the increment to each skeletal dimension was related to the total digestible energy intake of the animal over the experimental period, and to the pattern of alimentation which led to this energy intake. The growth gradients described in the literature as a typical mammalian pattern were confirmed for deer and were quantitated graphically. The principles evolved from the experiment were applied to estimating the total energy intakes of two field animals at six months of age. The results of this study showed that this method of energy evaluation possesses a potential for direct field application.

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