Deer Protein Feed as a Supplement

When feeding deer, there’s a certain level of controversy regarding the exact dietary percentage of deer protein feed to help Deer achieve optimal health.

However, what is certain is the fact that a supplemental feeding with pellets does help improve antler size. It also helps accelerate fawn production and keeps the herd healthy in times when vegetation and other food sources are limited.

Deer Protein Feed – What You Should Know

The amount they consume varies greatly on the geographic location, time of year and weather patterns. Research from a main supplier indicates that deer protein diets including up to 25 percent result in improved antler growth.

Adding to this, most food they eat contains more than 30 percent protein. However, the animals remain unharmed even with this higher amount.

Deer Protein Feed in a manger

In fact, these high levels helps a buck achieve its best genetic potential, consequently enhances the growth of velvet, which offers myriad benefits towards human health.

Some of these human health benefits include: improving immunity, muscle building, countering stress and promoting faster recovery from illness.

Benefits to Adding Protein to Feed

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Protein feed is not only important for maintenance and growth of all organs of the body. It is also important for several physiological functions as well.

Several factors affect the amount needed, including the environment, genetics, zombie diseases and parasite challenges. For example, mature or elderly white-tail require just 8-12 percent intake. On the other hand, average size middle aged white-tail require at least 13 to 20 percent.

Adding to the mixture works to help augment health when natural forage conditions are less than ideal. This includes times such as the winter months and in times of scarce rainfall. Even in a good year, the digestible content of major species is roughly below 10 percent by late summer. In most cases, this stays around that number until the spring green-up.

Supplemental feeding infused with additives ensure that they receive an adequate amount throughout the year.

Pellets with protein and other feed added have become an increasingly popular form of supplementation. They are also known to greatly improve feed taste, smell and palatability. Feeders should be placed at the right spots so that they are easily accessible.

Tips on Supplemental Feeding 

Choosing the right spot

It is recommended that you place feeders in a secluded area, along the edges of vegetation, travel corridors and preferably near a plentiful water supply. With regards to the number of feeders, one per 20 – 30 deer is great.

However, you can always install multiple feeders to increase access to feed for uniformity of antler growth throughout your herd.

Leading them to the feeder

You will in most cases have to guide them to the feeding point. This is especially the case if you’re setting up a new feeding station. Make a trail using corn starting from the closest path to your feeders. In order to serve as effective attractants, spread the corn around the feeders as well as this will help reel them in quickly.

Add corn

These animals, in most cases, will eat familiar feed such as corn over something new. Therefore, if you’re setting up a food plot in a new area, mix corn along with the extra additions. Once they have started nibbling on the feed, gradually back off on the corn until it eventually becomes full protein mixture.

Choosing the right feeder

It is important to choose the right one to give them easy access is the key. You also want to keep the food cool, dry and fresh. There are several different types of feeders available. These include free standing, hanging, or gravity feeder, so choose the type that they will be comfortable with.

Deer feeders are also available in a spectrum of different sizes. Even though the right one should grab their attention, it should be appealing to the other wildlife surrounding the area. If you’re buying an electric one, make sure it offers enough charge for the entire season. It is even better if it shows promise for multiple seasons.

Durability is the next important aspect to consider when buying a feeder. Therefore, look for products that showcase robust build quality. Volume is the amount of feed the unit can hold and is listed in either gallons or pounds.

As you might have guessed, the bigger a feeder’s holding capacity, the fewer trips you will have to make to refill it. In terms of refilling, it can be done in several ways. This includes lowering the feeder or lifting the bag of feed over your head or climbing a ladder.

Feeding Tips

Supplemental feeding with deer protein feed pellets

As mentioned earlier, the amount for a feeding program depends on several factors. These include environment and climate. Therefore, when you feed, is important to have a strategy in place throughout the year to ensure a healthy herd.

This strategy to attract deer to your feeders should go beyond just sprinkling corn around the property all through the year and hoping for the best.

Providing the correct type such as deer protein feed and other attractants. If you know when to feed it can also maximize your efforts.

Fall to Mid-Winter

The primary goal through the fall and the early days of winter is to help them build their fat reserves. This is in order to help them withstand the rut and cold months. However, it is important to check your local laws before you do so, because some states do not allow deer feed protein and other supplements in the area before hunting season.

Although food sources like acorns, mast crops and food crops do a great job of getting them ready for the physically demanding rut, pellets made available to them during and after this period helps prevent weight loss. The recommended supplemental feed mixture for fall too mid-winter is 50 lbs fat (rice bran), 100 lbs carbohydrates (corn) and 50 lbs protein (high quality).

Late Winter to Early Spring

This is the time when you need to be more careful. The reason for this is because placing gains at the wrong time can result in potentially fatal digestion problems. Diets of course do vary across regions, where you will find certain species feasting on large areas of corn right off the stalk well into February.

Since they are already eating well and gaining the essential dose of protein via Mother Nature, it may be wise to refrain from supplementing at this time. This is because their digestive system may find it challenging to digest this new food type. If this your first year, the best advice is to wait until the spring when their stomachs have the right microorganisms required for smooth digestion.

Mid-Spring to Summer

This is the right time to fill the feeders with feed that includes a few minerals as well. The concentration and amount of protein can vary across brands, but it is typically between 15 and 22 percent.

Again, the ideal amount to use with their supplemental feeding program at this time of year varies depending on the conditions. In other words, where there may not be an adequate supply of leafy greens and a high protein pellet may not be easy to digest in hot and dry summers. A pellet will be easier to digest along with the normal vegetation if you’re experiencing a mild summer and normal rainfall.

Other Types of Nutrients Besides Protein Are Needed

Apart from deer protein feed, not providing them with the required dose of other nutrients can have adverse effects on their health. Even though energy is not regarded as a nutrient, the nutrient concentration in the foods eaten directly affects their energy levels. They need a high dose of energy for several functions including growth and normal day activities, temperature regulation and reproduction.

In the fall, they will eat foods that are rich in carbohydrates such as acorns and grain crops, which are stored in their body as fat reserves.

These are used during the periods of winter stress and breeding season. Minerals, another type of nutrient, accounts for 5 percent of this animal’s body, with the two most important ones being calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P).

These two minerals are essential most species when it comes to general metabolism, bone growth, and milk production. Vitamins are important nutrients, and the exact amount of vitamins needed is unknown. But vitamin inconsistencies are somewhat a rare occurrence.

Water is also one of the most important nutrients, and accounts for 70 to 75 percent of the animal’s body. These animals are believed to consume 3 to 6 quarts of water per day from a surface water source such as a stream, spring or pond. They also get a bit of water from the moisture within the vegetation they eat. They also like to lick surfaces. Therefore, many people put out salt licks, as these provide a few other nutrients that can be found in salt.


Deer are highly sensitive to changes in nutrition. Therefore, not getting the right level nutrients at the right time can affect their body condition, size, and may not make them a sportsman choice.

The advantages of using a deer protein feed are quite impressive and include increased heard health, reduced herd mortality rate and increased consistency in breeding and herd sizes.

Be sure to visit Feed That Game weekly for new and interesting articles. You might also like this: Types of Deer Species and what is deer milk?

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