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John's Journal... Entry 129, Day 1


Need for Protein

EDITOR'S NOTE: During the late winter and throughout the spring and much of the summer, maximizing the amount of protein the deer on your property ingest will help your deerherd build stronger, healthier bodies and larger antlers. Most sportsmen who manage their deerherds plant greenfields and use feeders in the fall, primarily to observe deer and harvest the bucks in their herds. However, if you want to build a healthier herd with bigger-bodied deer and specifically bucks with heavier antlers, you must provide greenfield plantings and supplemental feed immediately after the rut until the first green-up. But don't stop your feeding there. If you merely insure the survival of your herd until green-up, you haven't increased your odds for growing bigger bucks quicker. This week we'll learn what Dr. Keith Causey, a longtime deer biologist and Dan Moultrie, who has intensively researched the feeding habits of deer for many years, recommend for producing bigger, healthier deer.

Once deer begin to feed during the spring and the summer, the amount and the quality of nutrition that the does take in directly influences the health and the quality of the fawns they'll produce. A strong, healthy buck fawn will develop quicker and have a greater likelihood of growing heavier antlers during that first year of his development. "I believe nutrition plays a much greater role in antler development than any other factor," says Dr. Keith Causey, a deer researcher and professor at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. "Body and antler development depend on the amount of nutrition that the deer take in and the quality of food that the deer ingest. These two factors are the easiest ones for the sportsman to control."

You often can't manipulate the genetic makeup of the bucks in a free-roaming herd, and in many instances, you can't control the age structure of the herd. But, through managing the harvest of the animals, manipulating the habitat to provide more and higher-quality nutrition and supplemental feeding, you can control the amount and quality of available food for your herd. "Many hunters quit feeding their deer at the end of deer season, when in fact, this is the time that the deer often need the feed the most," Dan Moultrie, president of Moultrie Feeders in Birmingham, Alabama, and longtime, avid deer hunter, explains. "We've discovered that the stress level of the deer is extremely high as they come into the spring, which means they can benefit greatly from supplement feeding. Too, you can increase the survival rate of the fawns and of the bucks for the next year by continuing to supplementally feed after deer season ends." Often a gap occurs in the amount of food available between the end of hunting season and the beginning of spring green-up. Deer may find more food in the spring in areas where hunters have planted greenfields previously. But the deer still can benefit from supplemental feeding since the food in the greenfields may not have as high a protein level as you need for the does to produce bigger, healthier fawns and the bucks to put on heavier antlers.

To learn more about how to use spin feeders and soybeans to improve deerherd, write or call Moultrie Feeders at 150 Industrial Road, Alabaster, AL 35007, (800) 653-3334, or visit the company's website at www.moultriefeeders.com.





Check back each day this week for more about Protein For Your Deer ...

Day 1 - Need for Protein
Day 2 - New Research
Day 3 - Peas and Corn for Bucks and Does
Day 4 - The Advantage of Feeding Soybeans and Corn Versus High-Protein Pellets
Day 5 - Cautions

John's Journal