Nutrition Food

Hot Topic: A Close Look at Feeding Deer

A well-balanced dietary technique can profit from using supplemental feed, and the outcomes can typically be seen in antler progress. Photo courtesy of Dr. James C. Kroll.

Supplemental feeding for whitetails is definitely close to the highest of the record of “hot button” points in deer administration. Many are asking: Is there a spot for supplemental feed in a whitetail administration program? To reply that query, let’s take a better look at what constitutes a well-balanced food regimen for whitetails and the way supplemental feeding may also help the deer you’re managing in your property.

There is a large distinction between feeding deer as a part of a sound administration program and making an attempt to bait them into a spot to be shot. The function of the latter is clear: The hunter needs to place the chances in his favor. This will not be authorized relying on what state you reside in, so you want to analysis your state laws rigorously. But the aim of feeding deer (the place it’s legally permitted) ought to be to stability out the dietary wants of your deer, within the context of a sound nutrition program.

It is all the time essential to make use of pure forage as the idea on your dietary program, but when it’s authorized in an space, I add in supplemental feeding to fill within the dietary limitations brought on by things like local weather and soil.

Once you’ve gotten your herd “clicking” at optimum recruitment, the subsequent step is supplementation. Most of the time, sub-par nutrition is probably the most limiting issue to raised antlers and fawn crop. There are two methods to complement nutrition — food plots and supplemental feed. Food plots definitely are the least costly option to complement, since a pound of food plot forage prices about 2 cents, whereas feed averages 35 cents per pound. Yet, there are various areas the place it isn’t attainable to develop food plots or the place there usually is satisfactory rainfall, there’s all the time the specter of drought! So, even for properties with the local weather for food plots, I often embrace supplemental feeding (the place authorized).

A good deer feed ought to provide protein, carbohydrates, fat and minerals at correct ranges, however based mostly on the inquiries I obtain, land managers are most interested in protein ranges.

We classify any dietary want of whitetails into two classes: upkeep and optimum. The upkeep degree is what it takes for a deer of a sure age and intercourse to get by. Conversely, if you find yourself managing your herd to supply the absolute best antler progress, that you must know what’s optimum.

Whitetails not solely are marvelously tailored to creating do with little, additionally they have the power to “overlook” extra. Most research have demonstrated again and again, that the optimum protein degree for the typical deer is round 17 % crude protein. The older a deer will get, the much less protein it wants. Fawns and yearlings typically want a better proportion of protein.

Unlike people, whitetail deer need to be fats! Deer will make the most of what quantities to a reverse Atkins weight loss plan, stocking up on carbohydrates in varieties just like the sugars cellulose and hemicellulose to create fats reserves that may be simply used for power when wanted. So, a feed with satisfactory protein and carbohydrates will permit deer to do fairly properly.

So, a feed that’s Three- to Four-percent fats is sufficient. A good rule-of-thumb is to stability fiber content material towards protein. For instance, if a deer feed gives 17 % protein, you must have 13 to 15 % fiber.


Whereas protein tends to get probably the most consideration, minerals are perhaps the most overlooked feed component. The mineral wants of whitetails typically are totally different from these of home livestock.

Of the host of macro- and micro-nutrients wanted by deer, the 2 most crucial are phosphorus and sodium. Sodium is essential for a lot of physiological actions, comparable to electrolyte stability, muscle and nerve conduction, blood buffering, and so on. There have been strong scientific research indicating physique measurement, antler improvement and fawn manufacturing are tied to dietary phosphorus. Calcium, one other important mineral, impacts phosphorus availability, with the ratio of those two minerals in food simply as essential as the quantity of every current. In basic, a 2:1 to 1:1 calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is perfect. The precise quantity of phosphorus wanted is dependent upon intercourse, age and season, nevertheless it’s thought to vary from Zero.2-Zero.Four % within the weight loss plan. This stated, we advocate greater ranges of phosphorous and calcium in our feed, since it’s a complement.

Micro-nutrients similar to zinc, selenium, copper and cobalt could be limiting. We use the time period “micro-nutrients” to emphasise they’re wanted in small portions. Selenium is a superb instance. This mineral is important to cell division, sperm manufacturing, antioxidant enzymes and antler improvement.

As you possibly can see, offering a top quality feed to whitetails isn’t a easy matter. There are many good deer feeds on the market, and I urge you to not tinker with deer diets by concocting your personal “special formula.”

Remember: all the parts that make up an optimum whitetail weight loss plan are necessary, however quite than concentrate on particular person items of the dietary puzzle, it’s rather more priceless to hunt out a balanced ration!

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