A male moose grows a new pair of antlers every year, whereas cows and young calves don’t have antlers at all. A male calf will grow the lovest part of the antler, the so called coronet or burr, by its first fall. Next spring, when the male is one year old, it will grow a pair of small antlers, which will fall off the following winter. The antlers will grow back during spring and summer – in the beginning they will be soft and covered with skin and soft fur called “velvet”. The antlers will stop growing at the end of summer, and the skin that has transported nutrients to the bone will dry up and start to peel off. The bull will rub its antlers against tree trunks to help the skin come off. The bark of the trees and dried blood will also colour the antlers in different shades of brown. The antlers may weigh up to 10 kilograms. During heat the males will show them to each other to see which one of them is the strongest, and even compete ferociously for females.
Year by year the bull’s antlers will grow bigger, being at their biggest when the moose is 8 to 10 years old, at its best age. The number of the spikes (tines) will not increase year after year, so it’s not possible to count the bull’s age by them, but the quality and guantity of food will have an effect too. As the moose gets older, its antlers will grow smaller and the number of spikes will reduce.
There are two basic types of horns, palmated (shovel-type) and non-palmated antlers. There are also combinations of these two. Shovel-type horns are broader than the non-palmated antlers, and the spikes are also shorter.The biggest measured shovel-type antlers in Finland were 115 cm broad and the width of the shovel 32 cm. The bull was shot in Jaala in 1930.
The moose is the largest of the deer species in europe. The body length may be 300 cm, and height at the shoulders 220 cm. A male moose may weigh from 260 kg to 600 kg. Female moose weigh from 240 kg to 450 kg.
Normal gestation period for moose is eight months (235 days). They will give birth mainly in June. Our calf Laila was born 20th July, 2012 at 8 a.m.
Moose normally have one or two calves but cases of triplets and even quadruplets have been documented! The tendency to give birth to several calves is strongly hereditary. Primarily the female’s age and general condition will affect how many calves she will bear. After being born the calf will stand up within a few hours and follow easily its mother within a week. Our Annikki also had to carefully watch over her firstborn Laila, and it sure did look like she slept one eye open! A moose calf will drink its mother’s milk till early fall and calves follow their mothers till their next spring when she will chase them away before the next ones are born.
Kesälaitumella hirvet oleilevat tavallisesti pikku ryhminä. Lämpimänä päivinä on mukavaa lepäillä viileässä varjossa Kesä kuluu leppoisalla tavalla hiljalleen paikasta toiseen liikkumalla ja välillä moneksi päiväksi paikalleen jääden, syöden, märehtien ja lepäillen. Monenlaista ravintoa on riittävästi, hirvi lihoo ja kerää vararavintorasvaa kudoksiinsa. Hirven elämässä ei kesäaikaan ole selvää vuorokausirytmiä, se liikkuu, syö ja märehtii mihin aikaan tahansa. Kovalla sateella ja helteellä hirvi mieluummin makailee paikallaan ja odottelee parempaa säätä. Hirvien pääravintoa tähän aikaan on paju sekä muut lehtipuiden oksat. Suurta herkkua ovat maitohorsmat.
At the end of October the rutting season has come to an end. The animals are moving back to their wintering areas and adapt their digestion systems to winter time food. In autumn the moose’s diet mainly consists of blueberries, lingonberries, and other subshrubs, but they may also visit farm fields to supplement their diet. As winter approaches the moose begin to eat food that has higher fibre content; mainly birch, willow, and pine branches. However, their favourites are easily digestible willows, mountain ash, aspen, and juniper. Pine seedling stands guarantee lots of good living areas for them, as the shoots and needles make up most of the moose’s winter diet. They feed rarely on spruce but when the moose population has grown bigger and food is scarce they will settle for spruce branches and crowns.
Moose will gather together to beneficial wintering areas even in groups of ten for the winter. They will move as little as possible, staying only in a few square kilometers area. Most of the moose’s time is spent eating. Even during winter moose will have to eat for about 20 kg a day. Moose may damage forest cover – especially seedling stands – for it is common for moose to cut the top of the tree to be able to eat the tasty crown. It is very easy for a moose to break the tree with its own weight, by just walking or jumping over the seedling. Damaging the tree will reduce the tree’s value by exposing it to fungal diseases.