Feeding Soybeans to Deer as a Protein Supplement



Question about Soybeans

“We have a 460 acre deer hunting property in the western portion of the Texas Hill Country. A friend of mine mentioned feeding soybeans to deer as a way to enhance the protein intake of bucks and grow larger antlers. We’ve kicked around the idea of starting some type of supplemental feeding program, but not sure if protein pellets or soybeans would be the way to go, since another guy told me that soybeans are not a good idea for deer since they often do not eat them and the protein can not be absorbed. Any ideas on this?”

So You’re Thinking About Soybeans for Whitetail Deer…

Soybeans are good for deer. It is true that soybeans are very high in protein, typically around 40 percent! The things that you’ve heard from your friends are all true, but not for all types of soybeans. The best way to feed soybeans to white-tailed deer is to feed them roasted soybeans. Standard soybeans will not cut the mustard. For one, deer do not tend to want to consume them. Second, a lot of the protein ends up going out the back end of the animal.

Deer Hunting in Texas - Protein Feeding

Roasted soybeans have around 38 percent protein and 18 percent fat. The roasting process increases the bypass protein portion of the bean, which means more protein that can be passed on to the deer. Bypass protein will not break down in the stomach and can be later absorbed in the intestinal tract, which allows utilization of the amino acids more efficiently by deer. If you go with un-roasted, then you might as well go home.


Soybeans & Deer Protein Requirements

It’s important to note, however, that deer can not necessarily use all of the protein found in roasted soybeans. That 36% protein is in excess of what whitetail need as far as protein requirements. A deer needs 16 percent to hit on all cylinders, but a 20 percent diet offers a bit more. Anything above that and some of your hard-earned money just ends up wasted.

My recommendation regard soybeans for deer: Mix them with something else. There are lots of things out there, but pay attention to your mix because you want to aim for about a 20 percent protein level. Roasted soybeans can be mixed with 12 percent livestock pellets, 16 percent deer pellets and even straight corn. Deer may take some acclimating to roasted soybeans, but most will readily consume them after a very short time. I’d recommend starting a supplemental feeding program in mid-winter or in early summer when animals deer will readily take to new, available foods.


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