Deer Minerals: An Important Part of Herd Management
As hunters and deer herd managers, we aim to create an environment on our lands where white-tails come, thrive, and stay. But if deer don’t find the right habitat and nutrients they need on our properties, they’ll leave and find them somewhere else.
So how do you make sure you’re fostering a healthy habitat and deer herd on your land? Small changes in environment can have a huge effect. Besides diverse forage, water, and cover, supplementing minerals is one awesome way to improve habitat and achieve a healthier deer population.
So let’s get to it—let’s discuss deer nutrition and why minerals are so important.
Basics of Deer Nutrition
Deer depend on the land to provide the nutrients they need. We know they can’t pound a protein shake or pop a multivitamin to fill in gaps from scarce forage or inferior browse. That’s why it’s important to foster a year-round environment where herds not only survive but thrive.
To do that, consistent and quality nutrition is a must. According to this article by the University of Missouri, nutrition, age, and genetics are the three main factors that influence higher recruitment rates, greater body mass, and larger antler growth in white-tails. And as part of good nutrition—protein, energy, water, vitamins, and minerals are five essential requirements.
Why Do Deer Need Minerals?
The total mineral content of a deer’s body is only about 5 percent. Not much, right? So are minerals that important? Absolutely. Deer can have access to plenty of feed and not thrive if the right minerals aren’t present.
Deer’s mineral needs change throughout the year and depending on phase of life, but here are some important physiological functions minerals assist:
- Body growth
- Antler growth
- Immune health
- Fetal growth
- Milk production
Macro- and Micronutrients
Minerals are classified as either macro- or micronutrients. These classifications indicate whether deer need a little (micro) or a lot (macro).
Important macronutrients include calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na) and sulfur (S). Micronutrients include iron (Fe), copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), cobalt (Co), iodine (I) and selenium (Se).3
What Minerals Do Deer Need Most?
Wildlife experts who’ve done studies are still unsure which specific minerals, and in what amounts, white-tails need. However, here are some they believe play an important role.
Calcium and Phosphorous
The two most abundant and studied macronutrients in white-tails are calcium and phosphorus—probably because these minerals impact body and antler growth.
Almost 90 percent of calcium and phosphorous in a deer’s body are immediately sent to the skeletal system. Why? Because bucks draw off this store in their bones to also grow antlers. After antlers harden, the minerals lost from the bones are then replaced through diet.(1)
Calcium and phosphorous also play a major role in milk production, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and general metabolism.(2)
Copper, Zinc, and Selenium
Zinc, copper, and selenium are three important micronutrients. Copper plays a role in muscle, nerve, and immune function. Zinc is involved with healthy cell production. And selenium is a powerful antioxidant.(3)
Sodium, or salt, is a mineral deer need—and seem to crave—especially during spring and summer. Check out this study showing sodium as the mineral white-tails seek most when using mineral licks at camera survey sites. Supplements with high salt content brought more visits.
Deer Mineral Supplementation
Deer in the wild seek minerals from plants, soil, water, and natural salt licks. But what if the soil or forage on your land is lacking or deficient in minerals? You may find your herd relocating to your neighbor’s acres.
Consider starting a mineral supplemental feeding program instead. In this paper, J.R. Perkins of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department notes six advantages to supplemental feeding.
- Trophy–class animals at an earlier age.
- Lower post–rut mortality in bucks.
- Allow genetically superior animals to reach their potential.
- Carry more quality animals in a given area.
- Smooth out “boom or bust” population cycles.
- Expand range or hold animals in an area if other factors are not limiting.
How to Supplement Deer Minerals
There are two ways to supplement deer minerals on your land and increase herd nutrition.
- Improve soil on food plots: All soils contain minerals, but many areas have deficiencies. A good deer nutrition plan involves improving your property’s soils—especially in and around food plots. To start, test your soil mineral content and then add a soil amendment to improve mineral balance.
- Provide mineral sites. The easiest way to supplement minerals is to create a mineral site. It’s a simple and affordable practice to help deliver all the trace minerals deer need.
Redmond Hunt Balanced Deer Minerals
Supplementing minerals is just one part of a good deer management program, but an important one. At Redmond Hunt, we’ve got all your mineral needs covered.
Plot Rock is our all-natural soil amendment. It improves soil and replenishes essential trace minerals so you can grow more nutritious forage on food plots.
Trophy Rock and Four65 are all-natural sea salt supplements. Both have 60+ trace minerals and come in a balanced mineral package that provides deer all the electrolytes and important macro- and microminerals needed for optimum health.
Click below to purchase Redmond mineral products and begin improving your land and deer population!
- Nutritional Requirements of White-tailed Deer in Missouri
- White-tailed Deer Nutrition
- Which Minerals Do Deer Need
- Supplemental Feeding
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