Use Both to Ensure A Steady Food Source
Food plots are extremely important in providing nutrition to your whitetail herd, but many managers have a difficult time supplying forage during the winter months. This can be case in the north where snow covers many crops and in areas where you simply cannot plant enough acreage for the amount of mouths you have to feed. In the big-woods, areas of poor soil or in mountainous terrain it can be difficult to provide enough acreage in food plots. However, insufficient nutrition levels can lead to weight loss, poor conception rates, lower fawn recruitment, and increased vulnerability to disease…and where it counts too many gamekeepers - poor antler development and increased mortality rates. In areas where it is legal, it is wise to supplement your herd’s diet with a quality protein feed.
Antler growth begins in February and runs through September, but during peak months mineral deposition exceeds mineral intake so bucks must build up mineral reserves prior to summer. Having a supplemental feed that provides these nutrients is crucial if you wish 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 that you stay committed to your feeding program if you wish to see noticeable results. Just dumping out a bag of corn from time to time is likely doing more harm than good.
“How” you feed your herd 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 like these actually cost about the same when everything is said and done. As long as the nutrition is available consistently, what you feed is more important than how you feed it.
This tip is courtesy of the GameKeepers Field Notes, a weekly wildlife and land management email newsletter produced by the Mossy Oak GameKeepers.
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Find out more about what makes a GameKeeper by visiting our website.