Elevated plasma potassium (K+ ) concentrations well outside the normal range for deer have been reported during the rut. The effects of season and nutrition on plasma K+ concentration were examined in two experiments in farmed red and fallow deer. In Experiment 1 castrate and entire red stags were fed ad libitum on pasture and blood sampled fortnightly over 11 months. Except for a transitory peak at the beginning of Experiment 1, red entires and castrates showed no abnormal plasma K+ concentrations over the 11 month period. In Experiment 2, a castrate group of fallow bucks were fed to lose a similar amount of live weight as entires over the rut. When plasma K+ concentration was expressed as a function of changes in muscle weight there was a significant negative relationship (P<0.05) in the castrates. There was no relationship in the entires, although the measure of change in muscle weight could have been confounded by changes in water content of the musculature over the rut. The occurrence of hyperkalaemia in deer was variable. Further work is required to clarify the conditions that lead to its expression.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 57, , 144-146, 1997
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