Minerals and Supplements for Deer Herd Management
March 15, 2022
Deer minerals support better hunting and herd management. Find out which trace minerals deer need and how to supplement them on your private lands.
As hunters and conservationists, we aim to create an environment on our lands where whitetails 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 foster a healthy habitat on your land and better manage your deer herd? Small changes in the environment can have a huge impact. Besides diverse forage, water, and cover, supplementing trace minerals is one great way to improve habitat and achieve healthier deer herds.
In this article, we'll discuss herd nutrition, why and what minerals are important for growth and health, and the best ways to supplement them.
Basics of Herd Nutrition
Wildlife 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. So it's important to foster a year-round environment where herds not only survive but thrive. To do that, deer need consistent and quality nutrition.
The University of Missouri notes nutrition, age, and genetics are the three main factors influencing higher recruitment rates, greater body mass, and antler growth in whitetails. As part of good nutrition, protein, energy, water, vitamins, and minerals are five essential requirements. Let's dive further into the role of minerals.
Why Do Deer Need Minerals?
The total mineral content in a deer’s body is only about 5 percent. Not much, right? So are they that important? Absolutely. Wildlife may have access to plenty of feed and still not thrive if the right minerals aren’t present. Whitetails' needs and demand for minerals change throughout the year and depending on phase of life. Here are some critical physiological functions minerals assist with:
- Body growth
- Antler growth
- Immune health
- Fetal growth
- Milk production
What Minerals Do Deer Need?
Minerals are classified as either macro- or micronutrients. These classifications indicate whether deer need a little (micro) or a lot (macro). Some 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). Wildlife experts who have done studies are still unsure which specific minerals, and in what amounts, whitetails need. However, there are some they know play an important role.
Calcium and Phosphorous
The two most abundant and studied macronutrients in whitetails are calcium and phosphorus. They are critical for deer antler growth. The University of Missouri notes almost 90 percent of calcium and phosphorous in a deer’s body goes to the skeletal system. During spring, bucks draw off this abundant store in their bones to grow antlers. After antlers harden, the minerals missing in the bones are replaced through diet.
Calcium and phosphorous also play a crucial role in milk production, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and general metabolism.
Copper, Zinc, and Selenium
Zinc, copper, and selenium are three vital micronutrients. Copper plays a critical role in muscle, nerve, and immune function, while Zinc is involved with healthy cell production. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant for deer.
Deer need sodium—and seem to crave it—especially during spring and summer. Additional salt is necessary to replenish sodium levels from increased water and potassium uptake in green spring grasses.
Benefits of Supplementing Your Herd
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 trace minerals? You may find herd numbers diminishing as deer relocate to your neighbor’s acres.
Consider starting a mineral supplemental feeding program to improve herd management and increase deer population. J.R. Perkins of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department notes these 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 the range or hold animals to an area
How to Supplement Herds on Your Land
There are two ways to supplement trace minerals for your deer and your land.
- Improve soil on food plots: All soils contain trace minerals, but many areas have deficiencies. A good nutrition plan involves improving the soils on your land—especially in and around food plots. To start, test your soil mineral content, then add a soil amendment to improve mineral balance.
- Provide mineral sites. The easiest way to supplement is to create a mineral site. It’s a simple and affordable practice to help deliver all the trace minerals deer need. Check out the Redmond Beyond the Rock video above for tips on setting up a site.
Redmond Hunt Balanced Trace Minerals
Supplementing is just one part of a good herd management program, but an important one. At Redmond Hunt, we have your mineral needs covered. Trophy Rock and Four65 are all-natural salt supplements with 60+ trace minerals for deer in balanced ratios. Cherry and Apple Bomb, powered with Trophy Rock, is a long-range attractant and supplement deer love. All three supplements provide important macro- and microminerals needed for optimum health. Click below to purchase Redmond products and begin improving your land, hunting, and herd population today!
© Redmond Hunt 2022. All rights reserved.
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