• Wapiti is a strong animal, very well adapted to our climate and not prone to sickness.

  • Life span: males: 12 to 14 years - females: 15 to 20 years

  • Wapiti uses its food efficiently..

  • Its appetite fluctuates with the seasons; hence, the importance of providing it with a well-planned diet

  • The first antler velvet harvest is done when the animal has reached 2 years of age. It is also at this age that it attains sexual maturity. Variation in the length of day plays an important role in setting the wapiti's natural cycles. Hence, with less sunlight, the testosterone level increases and the animal enters into rut.

  • After the rut, the testosterone level decreases until Spring and then starts the growing of new antlers. When the antlers are grown, the testosterone level increases again

  • Farming wapiti is well suited to the environmental concerns of today. This animal produces three times less pollution than cattle.

  • Guidelines for selecting velvet producing males :
    2 years old; 10 to 12 lbs
    3 years old; 13 to 15 lbs
    4 years old; 16 to 20 lbs
    5 years and older; 20 to 40 lbs and over.

Wapiti farming is special as it is being done under conditions that enhance the well-being of our animals. Consumers also appreciate the benefits of our products to their health.

Gestation and calving

The fertility rate of does reaches 100% under optimal farming conditions. Dystocia problems can be avoided by checking the overall body condition.

Fawns are born in late May and at the beginning of June after a gestation of 247 days (with a variation of 7 days either way).

In the hours preceding birth, the female looks for a quiet place away from the herd.

When future mothers' body condition is adequate, there is a lapse of about 60 to 90 minutes from the onset of labour to the birth. Normally, wapitis give birth to one fawn per year. The average weight is 45 to 50 lbs for a male and 34 to 40 lbs for a female. The fawn keeps its white spots until it is 3 months old.

During the first days of its life, the fawn gets up mostly to suckle. Its sole defence is to curl up among tall grasses and bushes. The mother keeps an eye on her young one from a distance so as not to reveal the hiding place.

When many females calve in the same paddock, it is common practice for them to take turns watching the young while the others go feed themselves.

Calving takes place when pastures are luxurious and nutritious. This abundance of food is rightly timed for the fawns who need high quality milk to grow to their full potential.

Feeding fawns

When a wapiti breeder has to bottle-feed a fawn, for any reason, he must make sure that he gives it some colostrums, especially if he suspects the fawn did not get its first suckling. The colostrums of goat, sheep or cow can be used. Later, ewe or kid replacement milk would be a good choice as it is very similar to wapiti milk.

Wapiti milk components


Wapiti is a herbivorous mammal. It is important to provide this forager with a feed that is well suited to it. Hay is the best feed for winter. It is economical, available, and, moreover, it is more efficient than concentrates to warm them up.Wapitis like alfalfa, either in pastures or in silage.

The quality of a pasture has much to do with the maturity of grasses; the shorter the grass, the higher the protein content.It is very important to have a good pasture rotation if the wapiti is to fully benefit from pastures.

When it has the choice, wapiti prefer a four-week old pasture.



The three criteria which are of tremendous importance to help wapiti to use their feed to the fullest are: quality, quantity and proximity.

Trees and shelters

Trees have always been part of the wapiti's environment. They help to cool them down in the Summer and protect them against cold Autumn and Winter winds. This protection from the heat of the Summer sun is vital to fawns who can dehydrate very quickly.

Trees themselves have to be protected from the wapiti males who like to pull long bark strips, especially when they grow their antlers. Wooded pastures should be fenced.

Shelters should be erected to increase the animals' comfort and to limit stress factors (wind, rain)


The wapiti's life is conditioned by the seasons. Its metabolism slows down in winter and, as a consequence, its nutritional needs decrease.

It can graze for up to 16 hours in Summer. This is the best time to give it the richest feed because males may lose up to 150 lbs during the Fall rut. When the rut is over, it is important to help it to regain weight if one is to expect a good velvet harvest the following year.

Estimation des besoins du wapiti

Trace minerals
0,15 ppm
0,5 ppm
50 ppm
0,3 ppm
8 ppm
0,3 ppm
35 ppm
35 ppm

Mineral needs are partially taken care of by the feed (hay and grains). Special attention should be given to selenium and to iodine as Québec soils lack these trace minerals.

Calcium and phosphorus are also required in great amounts.

Manutentions & installations

  • Handling wapitis requires patience and calmness.

  • Wapitis are easy to handle but they are sensitive to stressful situations. This trait has to be kept in mind when designing facilities.

  • Avoid long straight corridors.

  • The progress of the animals is eased when they gradually discover the exit ahead.

  • The control of inside light, helps in reducing stress.

  • The hydraulic chute should be well built so as to provide security, both for the handler and for the animal..

  • The hydraulic chute should be functional and accessible to allow for the diverse interventions required by farming practices.

  • Pasture management, see Omafra at: (babillard )

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