Red deer calves (10 of each sex) were immunised at birth against a melatonin conjugate or injected with adjuvant only (10 of each sex). Booster injections were given on 5 occasions over the next two years and effects of immunisation on live-weight gain, pelage and reproductive changes were monitored throughout this period. Immunised stags were 7- 10% heavier than their controls between 9 and 11 months of age and at 16 and 20 months of age and a similar, but not significant, effect was recorded for immunised hinds. Immunisation did not affect calving date of the hinds, or casting date and time of stripping of the antlers in the stags or pelage changes in deer of either sex. These results indicate that immunisation of red deer against melatonin can modify the seasonal pattern of liveweight changes during their first two years of growth.

DB, Binnie

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 49, , 1-4, 1989
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