Feeding Soybeans as Protein for Whitetail Deer

Deer hunters are a lot smarter than they used to be. In the past, the most important thing hunters cared about was getting a buck, but now with the popularity of deer hunting and management, many hunters have turned to habitat enhancement and improved deer herd health to increase overall quality. One of the best ways to help white-tailed deer is to increase their nutrition, and this is typically accomplished through supplemental feeding.

This is typically accomplished through food plots and/or protein pellets, and this varies by region as well as state law. That being said, let’s not confuse baiting with providing supplemental forage that truly enhances a deer’s diet. The ideas are completely different. The most common form of supplementation in the southwest is feeding protein pellets. This is because many hunters lack the equipment necessary to do a food plot justice.

Feeding Soybeans for Supplemental Protein to Whitetail Deer

But feeding protein pellets is expensive, especially when you realize that you are paying up for the pretty picture of the big buck on a very colorful bag. Pellets, however, are not the only option. Another alternative for getting additional protein into a deer’s mouth are roasted soybeans. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get these highly nutritious beans for a lot cheaper than you think. The best part is they can have protein levels as high as 45 percent!

Yes, some beans may be ONLY 38 percent protein, but that still kicks butt on those 16 percent pellets. In many cases a 50 pound sack of roasted soybeans is highly comparable in price to a 50 pound sack of pellets, but with soybeans you really are getting more protein bang for your bucks. But is going whole-hog on soybeans the right decision for your whitetail deer?

Probably not. Soybeans are high in protein, but they do lack some of the micronutrients found in deer pellets. That said, deer provided with supplemental foods still consume a large amount of native plants and can get micronutrients from them. In addition, deer must be conditioned to eat roasted soybeans, and typically will not touch plain ole soybeans. Conditioning usually does not take long because you can mix the beans with either pellets or corn, increasing the percentage of beans as you go, until deer really get going on them.

In summary, roasted soybeans are high in protein and are a solid choice for hunters looking to provide the deer on their property with additional nutrition. Additionally, soybeans are often comparably priced or less expensive when compared to prepared, pelleted feeds and allow landowners to increase deer body condition and antler growth for improved deer hunting. However, soybeans are lacking in the micronutrient department, even though deer MAY pick these back up from browsing in their natural habitat.

My suggestion would be to mix protein pellets and roasted soybeans if you are looking to bulk up your deer more economically. This can achieve your goal of helping the deer and improving the deer hunting on your ranch. You may have to put a pen to the paper to calculate your protein levels and costs, but like they say, time is money.

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