It’s drop-off time at Charlecote Park for the 200-strong herd of fallow deer.
Deer at the National Trust property, which is just five miles (a 15-20 minute drive) from central Stratford-upon-Avon, are dropping their antlers… and eating them!
What causes the annual antler drop?
The annual drop, which is caused by decreasing testosterone levels after autumn’s rut, is always an interesting time for staff and visitors, as antler-spotters look for a trophy to take home.
But anyone hoping to bag a souvenir should think of the animals, who actually nibble at their fallen antlers for essential nutrients. Surprised? You’re not the only one.
Paul Smith, Park and Gardens Manager at Charlecote Park, said: “What surprises many people, is that the deer nibble at the antlers once they have been dropped. The antlers are rich in nutrients and minerals, which are essential to their diet.
“Although dropping off or casting off their antlers sounds pretty extreme, this doesn’t hurt the deer at all. They fall off by themselves and the deer don’t feel a thing – it’s just a part of their natural, antler growing cycle. They’ll grow them back almost as quickly as they drop them. By July into early August, the bucks will have completely regrown their antlers, which will be covered in a fuzzy layer of skin. This layer of ‘velvet’ supplies nutrients to the growing, honeycomb structured bone that the antlers are made of.”
If you do find an antler during a visit to Charlecote Park, either leave it in the park or hand it in to a member of the team.
Further information on Charlecote Park
It’s a great time to visit Charlecote Park – the grand Victorian home of the Lucy family – as more than 150 lambs are currently roaming around the parkland among the deer (there are four types of deer: the beige-coloured, faintly-spotted common; the menil; the dark brown/black melanistic; and the pale/white leucistic).
For opening times and prices, visit the Charlecote Park website.