Red deer comprise over 80% of New Zealand farmed deer. The larger body and antler weights and faster growth rate of wapiti, originating in North America, have encouraged many deer farmers to hybridise these animals with red deer. This study sought a biochemical marker in blood which could discriminate red deer, wapiti and F1 hybrids. Blood samples were taken from over 200 red deer, North American wapiti, and F1 hybrids. Haemolysed red blood cells were treated with potassium cyanide and subjected to isoelectric focusing (pH range 5 to 8). Starch gel electrophoresis was performed on untreated samples which were scored for both haemoglobin and superoxide dismutase. Haemoglobin from North American wapiti had a higher isoelectric point than that of red deer. Haemoglobin of all F1 hybrids tested showed a double banding pattern representing both parental types. All F1 hybrids were also heterozygous for superoxide dismutase, though this marker was not absolute. It correctly discriminated 95% of the animals tested. This blood test could be used to verify hybridisation in live deer sales, identify hybrids among captured deer, and select for wapiti if those traits are desired.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 46, , 165-170, 1986
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