Minerals for Deer, Whitetail Nutrition



Question: We just got serious about trying to improve the deer hunting on our property? We know that the supplemental feeding of deer can get expensive so we are working more on managing the whitetail deer population than just trying to dump more food and money onto the landscape, but we do want to offer some supplements to help the remaining herd. We are thinking about minerals for deer. What type of minerals should we use for white-tailed deer? Any tips or ideas would be appreciated.

Response: One of the best ways to develop a mineral site for whitetail deer is to buy loose range mineral in the bag for cattle or sheep (it’s the same stuff a lot cheaper). Dig a hole about a foot deep and about a foot square. Fill with mineral and then cover with dirt. You can also drop a small salt block (white or yellow) on top. Deer get minerals by pawing them up and eating. They should be in the ground right in the fall. Whitetail deer will start consuming minerals at sites hard once they start antler development.

Does will also use mineral sites and it benefits the development of the fawns in their first 6 months to enlarge the pedicles (base of the antlers) and determines the mass of the horns the rest of their life. All in all, minerals can do a lot to supplement deer nutrition and help the herd in general.

Source: How to Make a Mineral Site for Deer

Locate travel routes that are used regularly and have some cover nearby. Trails through thick woods or brush are good starting points. If you find a good trail near a water source, this might be a prime location for a mineral lick. Dig a shallow hole and loosen the soil before adding your minerals.

Mix the minerals and dirt well in the depression, and then add a little molasses for a sweetener. Many hunters will find an old rotted stump near trails and use that for their man-made lick. Be sure to check all state regulations before creating any mineral licks or supplemental areas you may want to hunt near.

Providing supplements such as feeds rich in protein can help, especially when deer need additional forage intake, but are not necessary if deer populations are maintained at the property carrying capacity for the property. In these cases, developing mineral sites for whitetail are likely all that you will need to enhance the existing deer population, improve antler growth and ultimately lead to a better deer hunting experience. All deer need good mineral sources for development, but bucks are heavily dependent on minerals for antler growth.


Source: Minerals for Whitetail Deer

Growing antlers are composed mostly of proteins (80 percent by weight); whereas hardened antlers contain roughly equal amounts of proteins and minerals. Studies have shown that calcium and phosphorus are by far the two most common minerals in deer antlers, comprising 30–35 percent of the mature antler by weight. However, a University of Georgia study detected 11 different minerals in the whitetail’s antlers.

In addition to calcium (19 percent) and phosphorus (10 percent), the next most common elements were magnesium (1 percent) and sodium (0.5 percent). Lesser amounts of other minerals were found including potassium, barium, iron, aluminum, zinc, strontium and manganese. Besides calcium and phosphorus, little is known about the role of other minerals in antler growth.

Clearly minerals are important in antler development. Because of the large quantities of minerals required for antler growth, whitetails have developed the ability to “bank” calcium and phosphorus in their skeletons and then transfer these minerals during antler growth. However, these body sources of calcium and phosphorus provide only a portion needed for optimum antler growth. The rest must come directly from their diet while their antlers are actively growing. Therefore, mineral supplementation prior to and during antler growth may be beneficial.

Although there are lots of minerals out there, whitetail deer need specific ones the most. If you are using the wrong stuff then you will be wasting both time and money and the deer found on your property will no better off. If you want to increase deer body size, grow bigger bucks and enhance deer hunting then you will need to go with the big two, but you also need something to draw them in to your mineral site.

Source: Things You Need to Know About Minerals for Deer

Calcium and Phosphorus are the two most prevalent minerals in antlers, so it makes sense that these two minerals should be included in any supplement you provide. The next most important item is salt – mostly because salt is the major attractor for deer. When considering a supplement to use, these key minerals should be focused on. According to that same QDMA article, there are a few key points to remember when considering mineral supplement composition.

“The first is the calcium to phosphorus ratio. The mix should contain as much of these minerals as possible while containing enough salt to encourage use by deer. In general, there should be at least 1.5–2.0 times as much calcium as phosphorus. This is the approximate ratio of these minerals in mature antlers.“


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