Nutrition for Your Deer Herd
Providing a year-round source of nutrition for your whitetail herd is very important. Inadequate nutrition leads to weight loss, poor conception rates, lower fawn survival, increased susceptibility to disease - and where it counts to some gamekeepers most - poor antler development and increased mortality rates. Food plots can be vital to a nutrition program; there’s no way a gamekeeper can supply quantity or quality of food than by planting food plots. However, many managers have a difficult time supplying a year-round food source, especially during the winter in the North or in areas where you simply cannot supply enough acreage for the amount of mouths you have to feed.
Providing the Best Nutrients for Antler Growth
Antler growth begins in February and runs through September, but during peak months, mineral deposition exceeds mineral intake so bucks must build up reserves prior to summer. Having a supplemental feed that provides these nutrients is crucial if you want your herd to express their potential. Even if you have ample acreage in food plots, many choose to supplement their herd all year to ensure they receive everything they need to flourish. It’s very important, however, that you stay committed to your feeding program to see noticeable results.
The Best Way to Feed Deer
How you feed can also be significant. It depends upon your goals, but most managers feel that a free-choice feeder is the best route. This way your herd can access the nutrition whenever they need. A free-choice feeder can be made, but commercial feeders actually cost about the same when everything is said and done. Either will get the job done for you. As long as the nutrition is available consistently, what you feed is more important than how you feed it.
Supplemental feeding has a long list of benefits for your deer herd, but putting the extra time and money into feeding protein pellets, corn or other grains can quickly go to waste if you can’t keep it dry. Building your own deer feeder is relatively simple.