THE FACTS OF DEER FEEDING
As hunters, we are all interested in bagging that “Trophy Buck”, the one with the Boone and Crockett rack that is always in the “mind’s eye”, but seldom if ever, makes an appearance when we are hunting. The only way to assure that there is a possibility of bagging that trophy buck is through a program that includes good range and domestic livestock management, an adequate deer harvest and a balanced supplemental feeding program. All too often, we are hunting on land where we have little control over the range management of the number of domestic livestock sharing the land with the deer population. We can however, have a beneficial affect on the nutrition of the animal through a supplemental feeding program.
There is a distinct difference between feeding and baiting deer. Putting out various forms of feed for deer is a common practice immediately before and during hunting season. Unfortunately, most of these baiting efforts stop just before additional food is really needed by the deer. Supplemental feeding should be done year-round, but is tremendously important during stress periods. These stress periods are normally encountered when the protein content of the forage is at a low level during severe winters and dry summers. We are all familiar with winter stress periods, but often forget that forage can be of extremely poor quality during the summer, the period in which does are under peak lactation (nursing) stress and bucks are in a period of maximum antler growth.
The age of the deer as well as the season of the year dictate the amount of food taken by the animals. Bucks will increase food consumption during antler development and does will consume more feed during lactation. During the fall and winter seasons, following weaning, fawns will increase food consumption. Doe deer also require adequate nutrition during the fall and winter months for good breeding success.
Supplemental feeding does not consist of putting out corn or other individual feed ingredients. Corn is an excellent bait, but does little for the total nutrition of the animal since it is low in protein and high in carbohydrates. Deer need a balanced nutritional diet on a year-round basis, not an intermittent feeding of an individual ingredient such as corn that does little for their growth or physical well being.
If deer have the genetic capability for quality antler and body size, good bucks result from a combination of proper nutrition, consisting of adequate protein, calcium, phosphorus, and energy in a nutritionally balanced product during early stages of body and antler development and age. A buck will usually be at the peak of body and antler development at 4½ to 5½ years of age. Prior to three years of age, much of the nutrient intake of the buck goes to skeletal and muscle development.
Antlers, when oven dried, contain approximately 54% ash (representing the calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals), 45% protein, and 1% fat. Most of us think of antlers as being essentially made up of bone (calcium and phosphorus). It is interesting to note their protein and fat content, thus verifying the need for a balanced nutritional diet.
FRM has three products that will provide nutrition needed to support the well-being of the whole herd.
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