Oh deer!.. Get it?.. Like oh dear, but deer because it's a deer?.. er, never mind.
Albus Dumbledeer (yes that is his name, and yes another bad pun, but hey... I'm a Harry Potter fan!) cast his antlers on Monday morning. This happens every year at about this time, and not always together, but this time his dropped within hours of each other. He is still recognisable from the others in the herd though by being the obvious largest deer.
Here they are... all cleaned up and ready for use. We often get asked what we use the antlers for, and it really is a mix of things. The nicer ones are used for display purposes and education reasons, showing school groups that visit etc. The smaller or not so nice ones are cut up and/or put in for our mice and voles to help keep their teeth down and give them a source of calcium.
You may have noticed we also leave some in with our red squirrels, for a similar reason, but the little deer also like to chew on them from time to time.
Each year the deer begin to grow their new antlers straight away, it only takes around 16 weeks to grow them, and while they are growing they are covered in a "velvet" which supplies the antlers with all they need for this growth period. Once fully grown the velvet is stripped off, and the antlers are left exposed as you are used to seeing them.
Each year when a stag regrows his antlers, they get slightly bigger. But they follow a similar pattern to previous years in tine shape and position. You can see in this photo above of Albus' antlers from the previous 4 years.
So, while Albus is antlerless, this means that Olivandeer (yeah ok, not so good that one...) can strut about a bit more being the largest stag with antlers. But it will only be a few days till he loses his as well. I am looking forward to seeing his new antlers in particular though, he is at the age where his set this Summer will really begin to take shape as a mature stags head... maybe he will even be able to give Albus a good run in this Autumns rut. Only time will tell of course.