Supplemental Feeding

Kids Outdoor Outpost - March 2016

Joe Schuster | March 13, 2016

With the close of deer season, many of you young hunters may be having conversations with your hunting buddies about starting a supplemental feeding program. I caught up with a friend of mine, Justin Strickland, who has done a lot of research on the subject of supplemental feeds, and he gives us some great information.

1.) What is the most important reason (or reasons) to offer supplements to your deer herd?

Justin: “Supplemental feeding helps with overall herd health. Whether it is yearlings or bucks, it is a way to put on body mass and get deer to a healthy body size. Does will also benefit from supplemental feeding by making it easier for them to raise more than one yearling while keeping on body weight.”

2.) What is the best time of year to put supplements out?

Justin: “Year-round feeding seems to benefit a herd the most. However, if you have a fairly limited feed budget, you would benefit the most by feeding right after deer season, during the harsh winter, and a few months before deer season during the heat of the summer and early fall.

3.) What can you tell us about using a deer cam at your feed site?

Justin: “Cameras on feeders is an easy way to get kids involved into hunting, as well as showing hunters the herd numbers and herd growth on their properties. You can witness antler growth from season to season, as well as build history with individual deer.”

4.) Does it make a difference whether you use a spin or a gravity feeder?

Justin: “There is a big difference between spin and gravity feeders. Spin feeders are for attracting deer. They do not really add much benefit for herd health. Gravity and trough feeders offer the deer the opportunity to consume enough feed to show growth success.”

5) One on the concerns I’ve heard about is the possibility of transmitting disease through supplemental feeding. Is there a risk of any diseases (like CWD) when using a supplement?

Justin: “It (supplemental feed stations) is no more harmful than a water source and a natural food source that draw large deer numbers. There are even studies showing fewer deer are harmed from those types of diseases in herds that are fed supplements.

“Supplemental feeding offers every type of deer hunter an additional benefit—from the hunter who loves his deer meat to the hunter who is trophy managing. A healthy herd produces more meat and larger antlers, and all deer hunters can agree that is great for hunting.”

Thanks Justin! I think you’ll agree that he gave us some great information on supplemental feeding. I’m on my way to pick up a few bags and a feeder.

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