Fallow Deer – Dama dama


Fallow deer were first thought to be brought to England by the Romans, but the main introduction was by the Normans in the eleventh century for ornamental and hunting purposes. It is a docile, non-territorial, herding deer that thrives in parklands, making it ideal for semi-domestication.

Their current patchy distribution reflects the distribution of ancient deer parks and hunting forests. Feral deer (escapees from parks) are now common in southern England. Increasing in number and slowly in distribution, they are now found throughout much of England and parts of Wales, and locally in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Herds may number a hundred if conditions are right.

There are now more deer in the South East today than there were 500 years ago in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Fallow deer have palmate (palm-like) antlers – a wider and flatter spread with less distinct tines than the red deer.


Size:Body size the same as a ewe (female sheep) but with longer and thinner legs.

Description:Males, ‘bucks’, have flattened, palmate antlers. Females, ‘does’, do not. Bright chestnut coat with spots in summer, drab grey-brown in winter.

Habitat:Live in semi-domesticated state in many parks and forests throughout UK.

Young:‘Fawns’; born in May or June after 8 months gestation and weigh about 4.5 kg, about the size of an adult cat. They are dappled to match their background and lie hidden in the undergrowth for the first few weeks of life, while their mother moves off to graze. The mother returns every few hours to suckle the fawn.

Diet:Purely vegetarian: grass, young shoots, leaves, bark, heather, sweet chestnuts, acorns and cereals etc.

Population:Pre-breeding season estimated to be 100,000.