Handraising White-tailed Deer Fawns

NOTE: No person may legally be in possession of a white-tailed deer in Texas without the proper permit from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.  Primarily, this is a Rehabilitator's Permit, Deer Breeder's Permit, or a Transfer Permit with an authorized Facility Id Number for Nursing or Veterinary Care.

     First off you will need the tools of the trade. You must have a bottle and a nipple which will be suitable for the fawns' size. We’ve had good success with human baby bottles. Good practice suggests sterilizing the bottle and nipple between feedings. It will take some coaxing at first to get the little one to take the nipple, but eventually it will become hungry and accept the bottle. It may help to gently press the nipple against the roof of the fawn's mouth to release some of the liquid. Thus giving a little taste to the fawn. Usually, once they realize this is where the food is coming from they don't hesitate to take the nipple.  

     If you are pulling the fawn off the doe within the first 24 hours of birth, or if you have a doe that refuses her baby, you will need to find some form of colostrum replacer. Colostrum is mother's first milk. This milk is full of antibodies and will help to protect the fawn from disease for the first few weeks of its life.  Ideally, we like the fawn to be with its mother for at least 8 hours before we pull it off to ensure that it has gotten a good supply of colostrum from its mother.  Different forms of colostrum are available, although I am unsure if there is an actual replica of doe's colostrum.  Colostrum ideally should be fed for the first 24 hours of the fawns life.

     Next, you must also decide on a milk replacer. There are several formulas out that have been developed for this purpose. We use Zoologic's Doe Milk Replacer.  Your local veterinarian or feed store should be able to help you decide. Be sure to mix the formula according to directions on the package. Otherwise, you could end up with diarrhea or constipation, not to mention the fawn would not be receiving the proper vitamin and mineral levels.

     Feeding times will vary with different animals and different replacers. Here is a chart that we go by.  Feel free to use it for reference only. Make sure to read the package label from the mix you are using.



Amount (oz)

Times Daily


Week 1



630 mL

Week 2



660 mL

Week 3



720 mL

Week 4



725 mL

Week 5



740 mL

Week 6



750 mL

Week 7



720 mL

Week 8



690 mL

Week 9



650 mL

Week 10



600 mL

Week 11



520 mL

     Finally, when feeding newborn fawns, you must rub the fawn with a rag to assist it in urinating and defecating.  The rubbing motion mimics a doe's constant licking of the fawn while eating.  After a few weeks, you will find that the fawn can perform these functions on its own and the rags and rubbing are no longer necessary.

     TWM also offers the service of Hand Raising Fawns for our clients' Breeder deer. The charge for 2009 is $500/fawn.  This service is for 8-10 weeks.  

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns handraising your white-tailed deer fawns.



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