Providing nutrition the entire year-round for your whitetail herd is very important. Insufficient nutrition levels leads to weight loss, poor conception rates, lower fawn recruitment, increased vulnerability to disease…and where it counts to some gamekeepers most - poor antler development and increased mortality rates. Food plots are extremely important, but many managers have a difficult time supplying food plot forage during the winter months in the north, or in areas where you simply cannot supply enough acreage for the amount of mouths you have to feed. In the big-woods or in mountainous terrain it can be difficult to provide enough acreage in food plots. In areas where it is legal, it is wise to supplement your herd’s diet with a quality protein pellet.
Antler growth begins in February and runs through September, but during peak months of antler growth, 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; however, that you stay committed to your feeding program [video] 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 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. 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.