All About Feeding Protein
If it’s feasible both financially and labor-wise, year-round feeding is absolutely the best time to feed deer protein pellets. Just keep those animals on a constant level of nutrition, and results will soon be very obvious.
As we all know, climate is never constant. Therefore, the browse and forbs which are the mainstay of the White-tailed Deer’s diet are never constant. When you get your deer herd established, on a steady regimen of high-quality deer feed, you even out those highs and lows Mother Nature throws at us.
During spring and summer, March through September, this is antler growth and doe lactation time. Now is when you need to be feeding a 20-percent deer pellet such as Purina AntlerMax 20-Percent. When September arrives and bucks shed the velvet off their antlers and fawns have switched over to a diet other than the doe’s milk, now you can switch to a sixteen-percent pellet that is higher in fat such as Purina Rut Conditioner. They no longer need the twenty-percent protein, but will use the extra fat to get them through the harder winter months and the rut.
Getting started on supplemental feed programs should be well thought out and executed. It helps if you have an aerial map. Your protein feeder should be applied at a rate of one feeder per every 200 to 250 acres. These feeders should be evenly spaced across your property. Key points to look for are areas in your water and cover. If hogs or cattle are present, your feeder sites will have to be fenced off. To do this, use 12 16-foot hog panels and 24 4-foot T posts. Set a stake in a cleared area. Tie a rope with a finished length of 27 foot 6 inches over the stake. Pull tight and walk in a circle, spraying the ground at the end of the rope with spray paint. Now, start setting posts in 8 foot intervals around the painted circle. After posts are set, stand up and wire your panels to the post. Leave one post out of the center of the panel so that you can use that for a gate. You will end up with a circular pendant approximately 60-foot across. When you first start filling your feeders, don’t fill them completely up. It will take some time for that deer to get used to the new feeders and a new feed. Mix pellets fifty-fifty with quality deer corn when filling feeders. Also, scatter some corn on the ground around the new feeders. Feeders should be checked and filled on a regular basis and should never be allowed to run completely out.
Feeders should be maintained and feed kept fresh and dry. After the deer get accustomed to the new feeders and feed, cut the corn out completely. Varmint such as raccoons can be a problem and should be controlled. Come early August, put a good game camera on your protein feeders. You will find at this time most of the activity will be at night and will be mostly bugs. You can use these pictures to compare the antler size of known bugs from year to year. You will see a difference in both antler size and body condition. This information can be used in your management plans for harvest of either trophy or coal bucks for the upcoming deer season.
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