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Feeding Deer Year Round

Old 01-17-2005, 05:32 PM
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Default Feeding Deer Year Round

I've recently obtained rights to my lease year round instead of just deer season. I'm interested in a year round feeding program. I do not own a huge ranch or have some unlimited budget, so let's keep this realistic.

Basically, I feed with timed feeders of the 30 to 55 gallon with spinner type timers. I do not own free choice type feeders, but could obtain or build trough type if feasible.

The situation is this.... I live two hours from my lease, so I am not there on a real regular basis. They also run cattle on this lease from early spring up to deer season. I also live in Texas and hunt in Central Texas....NOT SOUTH Texas.

With that being said, would feeding my deer throughout the spring and summer be benefical? Secondly, any recommendations on what to feed?

The health of the herd is my primary goal throughout the year with keeping deer in the area a second.....

Thank you in advance....
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Old 01-17-2005, 06:54 PM
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Default RE: Feeding Deer Year Round

If your concerned about the health of your herd then I would reccomend NOT feeding year round. There are numerous reasons why feeding year round can negatively impact your herd and I don't want to cover them all here. Search the internet for "winter feeding" or some such term and you can find conservation brochures, probably from your state that explain why feeding year round will probably hurt more than help. If you can't find anything email me and I will send you some info.
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Old 01-18-2005, 08:26 AM
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Default RE: Feeding Deer Year Round

I had a lease in your area. And have friends that can still afford it. We always had self feeders going year round. The deer use it when they need it and dont' when there is abundant natural food. You could tell after a couple of years that more deer were around more often, and that the animals were bigger and had a bit larger antlers.

I feel that feeding free choice is the only route. Feeders do not put out enough to support deer. Just gives em a snack so you can shoot em easier.

My friend even put out a self feeder drum here at home where deer aren't used to feeders and they've started using it. I will do the same soon. I suspect they'll use it in the winter the most, and maybe in stress periods during the summer.

The bad part if you use a 55 gal self feeder they can empty it in a week or less during peak times. And then it could go 3 months or more without being emptied. So if you go the barrel route I'd be sure to be able to check on it often when its extremely cold or stress weather. If not you are setting them up to die. IE they depend on it and then its gone.

Its also one thing that pisses me off that everyone turns their feeders off Jan 1 basically, just when the deer could use a bit more help....... No responsibility.

PS your county extension agents office will have plans for building a self deer feeder which is what we did in the hill country. It will hold a BUNCH of feed. I don't exactly recall -- but 1000 pounds at least I thought. That one, kept fenced so hogs and cows cant' get to it, works great after the deer got used to it. BUt I had to stick a small spin feeder in there at first so they got used to looking for corn etc... and got used to it being there in the crepe feeder.

Jeff
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Old 01-18-2005, 01:34 PM
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Default RE: Feeding Deer Year Round

rost495:

And then it could go 3 months or more without being emptied. So if you go the barrel route I'd be sure to be able to check on it often when its extremely cold or stress weather. If not you are setting them up to die. IE they depend on it and then its gone.
I dont want to argue about anything, but I find the above quote hard to believe. Deer have adapted to be able to survive in severe circumstances. There "programmed" to be totally self depended, and have spent thousands of years eating the same foods and living in the same habitat. Just because a human steps in and overs a barrel full of food, the deer are not going to totally forget how to survive. If you take the barrel of food a way, there going to go right back to eating the natural forage. Deer where able to survive with out the barrel of protein before you gave it to them, there not going to miss it much if you took it away.
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Old 01-18-2005, 05:15 PM
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Default RE: Feeding Deer Year Round

TXhighrack; in your climate that may be the case. In the northern parts winter survival due to starvation is a major factor in determining deer population in an area. If you feed them year round the deer population increases to the point that they'll starve if you stop giving them food near the end of winter. At that time they've used up the easy to reach food as well as their body fat. They are at the mercy of nature if there's deep snow or a late spring.

Dan O.
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Old 01-18-2005, 06:14 PM
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Default RE: Feeding Deer Year Round

Supplemental feeding of wildlife is gaining popularity. Practiced primarily during late autumn, winter, and early spring, deer feeding involves placing grains, apples, hay, and other feed where animals will find and consume them. A diverse array of people feed wildlife. Many are suburbanites who feed a few animals; some Wildlife agencies provide supplemental food to literally hundreds of animals within wintering areas. Feeding sites are sometimes maintained by municipalities, which commit a portion of their tax revenues to wildlife feeding, or by businesses that fund wildlife feeding operations as a cost of doing business. People are motivated to feed wildlife for a variety of reasons. They may believe wildlife cannot survive winter without supplemental food, or they believe that feeding wildlife in winter will result in a larger, huntable population the next year. Suburban landowners may believe supplemental foods will divert nuisance wildlife away from expensive shrubbery or crops, reducing costs. Others simply enjoy seeing wildlife at close range. Some business owners know that attracting wildlife also attracts customers.

Supplemental feed can disrupt natural migration patterns of some wildlife. Animals that do not migrate naturally because of supplemental feeding operations are often more vulnerable to malnutrition, because they do not have access to the right type and amount of foods found in traditional wintering habitat. Also, without the protection of wintering habitat, animals are particularly vulnerable to severe winter weather and predation.

Predation, not starvation, is the often the major cause of winter mortality for wildlife. Winter severity (deep snow, intense cold) and the quality of wintering habitat are the real determinants of survival in winter. Supplementally-fed animals are still vulnerable to predation, if wintering conditions are severe, particularly where feeding occurs in marginal habitat.

Supplemental feeding can actually lower populations by increasing predation during winter-feeding. Winter-fed animals usually congregate near the feeding sites. Concentrating animals in a feeding area for extended periods of time will attract more predators and will lead to higher predation than if the animals were spread out.

Typically winter feeding occurs near urban areas which can lead to increase in animals killed by car collisions and other human associated mortality sources.

Unnatural congregations of animals in winter feeding areas can also increase the instance of communicable disease.
Wildlife can grow accustomed to human contact and therefore be less wary which can lead to human-wildlife conflicts, accidents, increased predation and starvation.

In some instances, supplemental feeding may benefit wildlife by making it easier for biologists to model populations and regulate harvest. For instance, mule deer populations in Colorado sometimes experience high mortality in years when snow depth at higher elevation makes some wintering habitat unavailable. Stochastic, density independent events such as severe winters can make it impossible for biologists to manage for optimum economic yield (maximum sustained harvest). Supplemental feeding can help dampen severe amplitudes in population fluctuations making it easier to predict and manage population levels.

Supplemental feeding can also lower post-breeding season mortality in ungulates by helping animals put on more fat before the onset of winter.

Feeding can also help genetically “superior” animals fulfill their potential on managed private ranges by providing more nutrients for antler growth.

Increased food availability can also help depressed populations expand their range if other factors are not limiting.
Overall I feel that the disadvantages of feeding animals far outweigh the benefits except in a few specific situations. I feel that feeding wildlife will only aggravate problems associated with management mistakes, not alleviate them.

*EDIT* this is an excerpt from a short paper I wrote on supplemental feeding.
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Old 01-18-2005, 09:42 PM
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Default RE: Feeding Deer Year Round

In TX - I think offering a supplemental Feed in the right circumstances may be beneficial - but only if food plots are impractical - or unavailable in the hottest and/or coldest (limited growth periods) and the deer herd is substantial (30-40 deer +/sq mile)

I'm not a big fan of supplemental feeding because of the issues already mentioned in the north. In your area (TX) - I would think that as long as you were responsible -feeding could be a good option.

Even in TX - If its hot and dry - or cold and the vegetation is brown - and you start feeding corn - you must be prepared to keep feeding it until conditions improve - and weaning on & off it. Deer can and will die when abruptly switching on and off foods that were not a regular part of their diet. It has to do with the correct bacteria being present in their digestive system. It can take up to 2 weeks for a deer to be able to digest a new food source as the bacterias required build up. There is LOTS if info on this on the internet if you would like to look into it more.
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Old 01-18-2005, 09:47 PM
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Default RE: Feeding Deer Year Round

So is management of natural sources of food, in your opinion, also a worthless cause? I know here, we are not up to population, and I'm attempting to get that back to normal.

I still suspect the deer only utilize the spare food when needed. Why else would they empty the feeder in different time frames? And again, exactly how is this harmful-- other than the predation mentioned?
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Old 01-18-2005, 10:11 PM
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Default RE: Feeding Deer Year Round

To me corn is only a lure. Its mostly worthless. I have appx 3 acres set aside for my deer herd( I think it basically now numbers 5 or 6 deer) I have about 1.5 acres planted in food plots all year long. Save the time it takes to turn under the winter stuff and put in the summer etc... And I make sure there is plenty of natural food at that time of switching. Its all fertilized. There is also 1.5 acres of a bit of cover. Wild plums. Adding honeysuckle to the thickets. Plenty of fertilized oaks available. And we plant a variety of feeds for them to browse on.

The feeder runs year round with soybeans and pellets. The self feeder will be full all year once I get it up.

I do not believe that you can ethically start feeding deer and then shut them off. Of course my ethics and others may differ.

I don't do this to lure them in for the kill only. I'm trying to manipulate the herd into us being able to see deer again in some numbers. And it seems to be working. For when I didn't have all this set aside, we saw no deer at all.

Jeff
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Old 01-18-2005, 10:30 PM
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Default RE: Feeding Deer Year Round

I've got several year around food plots and I have about 10 corn feeders going year around. During the months of April-August I'll put out about 20 "self serve" trough protein feeders, feeding Lyssel & Eckel feed. Also during the severe drought years I'll leave the protein out year around. Plus about 50 acres of my food plots have an irrigation system, so they produce even in the driest of years and I have them high fenced so deer can only get in when I chose to lower the fence.

Dan O. & Brutal Attack:

Tplay103 is hunting in the Texas hill country, so pretty much none of what ya'll said applies to him or his area.
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