Influence of Prenatal Photoperiod on Postnatal Reproductive Development in Male Deer (Cervus-Elaphus)

Clare Lesley Adam, C E Kyle, Pauline Young

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Male red deer calves, whose mothers had been kept for the last 14 weeks of gestation in long days (18 h light:6 h dark) (group L, n = 7) or short days (6 h light:18 h dark) (group S, 5), were kept in constant intermediate daylength (12 h light:12 h dark) from birth to 75 weeks of age. Both groups showed the same live-weight gain. Mean plasma LH concentrations were higher in group L than in group S from birth to 20 weeks of age (averaging 1.55 versus 0.48 ng ml(-1) P < 0.001), from 21 to 45 weeks (1.65 versus 1.32 ng ml(-1), P < 0.05) and from 46 to 50 weeks (1.84 versus 1.27 ng ml(-1), P < 0.001); thereafter, there was no significant difference between the groups (1.81 ng ml(-1)). Mean concentration of plasma testosterone was relatively low from birth to 30 weeks (averaging 0.38 and 0.27 ng ml(-1) (P < 0.05) in groups L and S, respectively), but thereafter increased to a maximum which was greater (2.78 versus 1.46 ng ml(-1), P < 0.01), and occurred earlier (47 versus 68 weeks of age, P < 0.001) and at lower body weight (82 versus 96 kg, P < 0.01) in group L compared with group S. Growth of antlers started in both groups at 25 weeks, but they hardened earlier in group L than in group S (42 versus 47 weeks of age, P < 0.05). These results provide evidence that in male red deer postnatal photoperiodic change is not required to trigger puberty, that prenatal photoperiodic history influences postnatal reproductive development and that the timing of reproductive maturation in deer raised on 12 h light:12 h dark is advanced by long days experienced prenatally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-611
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Reproduction and Fertility
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1994


  • BORN
  • LH
  • testosterone
  • radioimmunoassay
  • secretion
  • puberty
  • growth
  • season
  • plasma
  • stags
  • born


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