Back to Basics

By: Dr. Douglas Wagner
Originally appeared in the Summer 2016 Issue of Whitetails of Louisiana

Each year I have folks question me on what has changed and what the new and latest things are in the fawn world. Are there any new diseases that I should know about or are there any new drugs that I should be using?

My question back to them is “Are you ready and do you have good protocols in place?”

Many producers do not have established protocols, they have a certain way they do things, but they don’t have a prescribed protocol that is followed year to year. They keep the majority of things the same but will make small changes, and these small changes end up having a very big impact and the impact could be positive or negative. I challenge anyone who is reading this to stop and answer this question honestly, “Do you have a protocol that you follow exactly each year?” Many of you will say yes, but I will tell you that if you don’t have your methods written down so that you can review them before each fawning season, YOU DON’T HAVE A PROTOCOL!

Why do you need a protocol? Without a protocol that is followed exactly you will not be able to determine if you need to change your methods and if you do make a change if it was positive or negative. Your goal should be to have less than 3% death loss each year and less than 5% expression of disease in your fawns.

Again, many of you will and do argue with me that you don’t have to write everything down, that you have been raising fawns long enough that you know what you are doing! YOU ARE WRONG! We are human and we make mistakes, or we forget and make small changes that don’t seem like a big deal but end up making life harder. For example, I had a producer who was complaining that his fawns were having more episodes of diarrhea than usual and wanted to blame the milk replacer. I asked him if he had changed anything from his protocol last year and he immediately said no, I asked him if he had a protocol written down and he said no. He again said the problem must be with the milk replacer! I asked him to write down what he had done this year step by step and then ask his family and employees to review this year’s protocol and think about what they had done last year. He called me a few days later and told me that there had been a change, instead of giving E. Coli antibodies at birth they had waited until day two, they thought it would be less stress on the fawn. In his mind they had not changed anything, he had still given all of the same products so what was the big deal?

A small change can make a big difference, all farms are different, and this change may not have affected another producer adversely, but it had a negative effect on his animals. HAVE A PROTOCOL AND REVIEW IT EACH YEAR BEFORE FAWN SEASON! If you don’t you are missing a valuable tool to assist you in reducing disease and financial loss.

If you have not had a protocol in past years, then now is the time to start! If you are unsure of how to set up a protocol or would like assistance, please feel free to contact me.

Dr. Douglas Wagner