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Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

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February 11, 2010

It's All About Love ~ What a Rack!

When I first moved to the Ranch, I found a pile of deer antlers laying in the garage and asked Dominic if they had been collected over the years from hunting......he answered "No, not these, we find these every year around the Ranch. Bucks shed their antlers." Now, I grew up in the country but I had no idea this was a natural occurrence that happened to a Buck annually! So when you see chandeliers or knives, etc. made out of deer antlers, it doesn't necessarily mean they've been acquired by hunting....now you can purchase guilt free for your log cabin! Deer shed their antlers annually between the months of January to April. The shedding of antlers takes two to three weeks to complete, and the re-growth phase takes place over the summer. The Buck, (male deer), sports antlers to attract and impress the Doe, (female deer), during mating season which happens late summer into fall. The Buck also has antlers to fight with his competitors for the Doe’s affections. These are just a few of the antlers that have been found on the ranch… The antlers are comprised of solid bone tissue with a honeycombed structure. Pedicles, or knobby, skin-covered nubs protruding from the skull, support the deer's antlers, or points, which range in number from one shaft to eleven branches. The pedicles are a permanent fixture on the Buck’s forehead, and are the point from which the antlers annually break off. During the first year the pedicles appear on the young deer's forehead. The following year, the young Buck sprouts straight, spike-like shafts (Spike). The following years, as the deer matures, his antlers lengthen and branch out (a rack). During the growth phase of the bony antlers, they are covered with a sensitive skin referred to as "velvet," which is filled with blood vessels that feed the antlers the vitamins and the minerals necessary to build up the bone, and to promote normal antler growth. The growth spans of antlers are two to four months. The velvet is no longer needed after this time. A ring is then formed at the base of the antlers to serve as a shutoff valve, which cuts off the supply of blood to the velvet. The velvet then withers, dries up and falls off, usually by the Buck rubbing his antlers against tree bark. The shedding cycle will begin again after the mating season ends in the fall. Pin It
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