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Nutrition & Supplemental Feeding

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  1. Nutrition & Supplemental Feeding Original Power Point Created by: Andy Harrison Modified by the GA Agriculture Education Curriculum Office July 2002

  2. Nutrition • The greatest effects on antler quality are: • Age • Genetics • Nutrition

  3. Types of Feeders • Generalist feeders • Elk, moose, and mule deer • Stay in the same area and eat what is available in large quantities • Specialized feeders • Whitetail • Wide range • Stop in various areas looking for specific feeds

  4. Forage Categories • Grasses and grass-like plants • Forbaceous plants • Weeds • Browse • Leaves and twigs of woody plants • Fruits of woody plants • Mushrooms

  5. Deer Forage • Just because it’s green does not mean its good deer feed • Improved grasses such as coastal bermuda offer little nutrition to Whitetails • Grasses and sedges • High fiber content • Less digestible to deer

  6. Deer Forage • Only a small portion of the diet is grass; usually < 5% • High grass intake occurs in late winter and early spring • Newly emerged or developed grass shoots are more digestible • Exceptions – cereal grains • Wheat, oats, rye, and ryegrass are highly nutritious

  7. Deer Forage • In all areas deer prefer forbaceous plants (weeds) • Highly nutritious and easily digestible • Some studies have been hard to validate due to the rapid digestion of weeds • Weeds only occur for a short period of time • Value depends on weather or environmental conditions

  8. Deer Forage • Weeds are high in protein • Up to 35% protein • High in phosphorous and some vitamins

  9. Deer Forage • Browse is a mainstay in most deer diets • Includes the leaves and twigs of woody plants • Lower in quality than weeds but more dependable and available • Types of woody plants • Determinant • Indeterminate

  10. Woody Plant Types • Determinant • Growth usually occurs in spring and fall • After initial growth, young, tender shoots emerge • Indeterminate • Growth is continuous • Usually affected by rainfall • New growth after rain period

  11. Deer Forage • Woody plants – new growth varies with topographic position • For example, lowlands verses hills • Deer adjust movement to take advantage of this pattern

  12. Nutrition • Mast – hard and soft fruits of woody plants • Includes corns, pecans, blackberries, and grapes • Seasonable in availability • Counted on for supplement to diet • Mast is more important in saturation herd populations

  13. Nutrition • Mast usually important in colder months • Used as an energy source • Acorns • High in fats and carbohydrates • Low in protein • Corn • Attractant • Energy source • Apples and carrots • Consumed in low mast production years

  14. Mushrooms • Critical; especially in phosphorous poor soils • Mushrooms have a high phosphorous content • Mushrooms normally grow in wetter parts of the year • Generally a good food source at this time

  15. Meeting the Need With Native Forage • Protein and nutritional needs vary at different times of the year. • Generally, protein levels of forage are highest in spring and fall • Nutrition is affected by climate as well as by topography • Compensates for seasonal availability

  16. Meeting Needs • Deer have ability to recycle protein in their bodies • Recycle urea in the blood • Thus can live without high protein feed for a portion of the year • Importance of seasonal protein availability • Fawn production • Growth of antlers

  17. Supplemental Feeding Concept • An attempt to augment or supplement the quality and perhaps the quantity of available native forages • Never intended to be “replacements” • Should bring seasonal or periodic deficiencies in line with physiological needs of deer

  18. Supplemental Feeding • Popular with hunters, land owners, and sportsman • Mania’s - Joint vetch • Sidetrack sound balanced approach

  19. Quick Fix Mania • No magic method • Spike buck • Caused some to eliminate age class of herd • Joint vetch • Used for imbalance in feeds

  20. Basic Components • Protein • Energy • Phosphorous • Calcium • In most cases, one or more are lacking at some point during the year

  21. Basic Components • Even in well managed herds, some component may be the limiting factor in reaching potential • Supplemental feeding helps reduce the negative impact of limiting factors • Population control • Habitat management

  22. Supplementing • Feeding • Food plots • Mineral supplements

  23. Feeds • Feed requirements are different than those of other animals • Corn • High in energy • Low in protein (7-9%) • Low in certain amino acids • Useful when carbohydrates and fat are needed • Consumed late fall and winter

  24. Feeds • Prepared Feeds • High in protein (16%+) • 2:1 calcium: phosphorus ratio • Essential vitamins and other nutrients • Carbohydrates and fats are added to supply energy • Most are pelleted

  25. Problems With Pellets • Do not stand up to weather • Feeders • Should provide dry storage • Do not limit access – especially to bucks • Reduce possibility of spoilage or pest problems • Should provide enough capacity

  26. Feeders • In growing season, bucks do not like to stick their heads down into a feeder or any other area that may cause damage to velvet • They also do not like the idea of sticking their heads in a closed box

  27. Feed Spoilage • Fungi • Sometimes toxic • Disease organisms can be transmitted to infected animals • Feeder should have drainage holes in bottom • Feeders should be disinfected periodically

  28. Timed Feeders • Mostly used for baiting deer for harvest • Seldom dispense adequate amounts • Susceptible to moisture contamination • Solar powered are best • Best for dispensing corn or grain type feeds

  29. Supplemental Feeders • Use declines after rainfall period • Supplemental feeding critical after hunting season is closed • Offsets late winter stress • Located in home ranges • Deer will not move to include feeder in home area • Locate near travel paths and in protected areas

  30. Cost of Supplemental Feeding • Normally eat 4 – 6 pounds/day • Cost is around $200 - $300/ton • Each deer will consume 1,000 #/yr in a 210 day feeding period

  31. Food Plots • Should be in areas of adequate rainfall – east of 35” line • Should be properly managed and distributed

  32. Properly Managed Food Plots • Plant species should match climate and soil • Adjust soil for pH and nutrients (NPK) • There is no one single plant variety for every situation or climate • Avoid • Varieties touted to grow in all conditions • Varieties promising to solve all deer nutritional problems

  33. Choice of Plant Species • Supplemental feeding year round • Determine what season is most critical for nutritional stress • Make sure feed provides correct nutrients when needed • 16% protein • 2:1 Ca: P ratio • > 50% digestible

  34. Planning Food Plots • Timing – clovers have good summer potential but do not reach peak in critical time • Ladino clover peaks in May/June in the South and usually competes with native forage

  35. Planning of Food Plots • Cost consideration • Monitor cost of product • Competitive with native vegetation • Cost of controlling undesirable vegetation

  36. Combination Plantings • Cereal grains and legumes can be combined for cool seasons • Arrow leaf clover, ryegrass, oats, and elbon rye can be used on upland clay to sandy loam sites • White dutch clover and wheat can be used on bottom lands • Inoculate legumes – proper inoculants

  37. Plantings • Cereal grains and clovers – not much chance of winter kill • Summer Plantings – common field peas • High yield potential • Highly nutritious • In dry weather they do not produce vegetative growth because they are usually eaten quickly

  38. Plantings • Peas • In favorable years plants mature and then deer consume entire plants rapidly • Basically a short-term feed • Summer clovers and legumes • Type depends on geographic region • Alyce clover, sweet clover, red clover, and joint vetch are good choices

  39. Establishment • Cost for slightly acid soil • Liming $25 • Fertilizer $40 • Seed $27 • Labor $15 • Total $107

  40. Establishment • Cost for properly maintained soil (mowed each fall) • Fertilizer $20 • Seed $20 • Labor $15 • Total $55 • Can further reduce cost by selecting species that re-seed, such as arrow leaf clover

  41. Planting • Divide food plot in half • Half cool season • Half warm season • Include a year-round supplemental food • Plant a small plot test to assess varieties and management • Always soil test

  42. Mineral Supplementation • Salt in large quantities is not healthy for deer • Mineral should be limited to no more than 35% salt • Critical components of the supplement are calcium and phosphorous • Deer seldom lick blocks • They usually wait for salt to melt under rainfall

  43. Minerals • Best fed in small troughs covered by a roof • Laying a trough in the ground results in a potential for spread of disease pathogens • Must be periodically cleaned