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Fallow Deer Species List

updated 17.5.01

[Quick contents:

  1. Dislikes
  2. Light brouse
  4. Additional notes

Information for this species list results from seven years of observation and experimentation at Tir Penrhos Isaf. The site falls within the core area of the Coed Y Brenin fallow deer herd.


1. Dislikes. In general the deer will not touch these.


2. Light brouse.

In general the plants below may need some initial protection but are ok once established.



In general, the plants below need permanent protection. (trees until over 6-8 feet)


4. Additional notes


Fallow are grazer/brousers and like fields, clearings. [ie. they are not quite as destructive towards young trees as some of the other feral deer in Britain]


May physically destroy whole plant or nibble parts, (the latter is rather suprisingly as the plant is extremely poisonous, so you read anyway). [nb. This may be a general response to extremely poisonous plants. I have come across similar behaviour reported for goats. CJD 2001]



Prior to the rut male Fallow deer thrash particular trees with their antlers. The purpose of this seems to be a combination of;

  1. stripping the velvet off their antlers; bits of velvet can often be found in the wreckage.
  2. practise for the rutting challenges; ie "fights"
  3. marking territory; the tree is generally left very visible with most of the trunk stripped of bark.
  4. preservation of fodder; the tree is usually 6-8 feet tall and on the point of growing beyond their reach. The thrashing usually ring barks the tree and results in coppice from below the damaged area.
  5. the maintenance of clearings; they need a tree that they can dance right around so they pick out isolated ones on the edge of forest or thickets and thus maintain open areas. One or two trees, (sometimes more) will be selected and thrashed within a limited area.

[An excellent demonstration of the permaculture principle that everything gardens CJD 2001]

For example, at Penrhos (7 acres) there are three main areas, (each only about 20 feet in diameter) where trees are thrashed annually. Trees selected are 6-8 feet tall, of good form with plenty of side branches and about 3-4 feet (minimum) of clear space around them. Usually birch or willow but anything that conforms roughly to the above pattern may be used, for example, tall gorse and larch as well as birch and willow here at Penrhos. A thrashing tree will be visited several times over about a month (aug-sept) and may be completely demolished in which case another tree in the same area will be selected.

Decoys can be constructed and placed within each thrashing area. We're experimenting with this. Decoys need to fit the pattern given above and be very firmly anchored. (Lyn stopped to admire a particlarly fine stag one night as she was coming home on her moped. She quickly realised that to the stag, the front view of her on her moped with its handlebars and high, extended mirrors generated a matching pattern; he started tossing his head at her and pawing the ground. She beat a hasty retreat).


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