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Old 04-17-2018, 07:02 PM   #1
TKK
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Default I have a protein feed question/observation

I have been fortunate to manage a high end LF south texas ranch for years.

We feed protein and cottonseed.

IMO they are both SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDS and called that for a reason.

During severe drought? I think they both are worth every penny.

During times when the ranch habitat is good? We have looked through thousands upon thousands of trail camera pics. We run 20-30 cameras. We set our cameras to 2 shots every 5 minutes. In most all cases the bucks are there five minutes or less IF the bigger bucks show up at the feeder at all. How much protein can an animal ingest in 5 minutes or less?

Compare that to a buck browsing natural habitat all day or a food plot? He has to ingest much more protein in either setting does he not?

As a side note ........... if a person has unlimited funds and can place a protein feeder in a semi-controlled setting (partially HF) and place multiple protein feeders every 100 acres or so then that is a different situation. In this case you created a basic feed lot so no doubt protein is worth the cost (even though most hunters cannot afford to do so)

So my observation comes from many years of being in the middle of this - at times I cannot help but wonder if the entire protein feeding phenomena is worth the cost? Maybe just feed it when there are drought situations? Open for input.

Final comment is this - the cameras do not lie - bucks at feeders for long periods is highly unusual
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:11 PM   #2
hchntr
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I hunt lowfence ~500acres.
Llano county
Last year we put up a pen around our protein feeders to keep the hogs away. I can tell you that many times the camera showed more deer in and around the protein pen than we ever see at a corn feeder at one time. Some of those deer that were at the protein before season never showed up on camera or in person at corn feeders throughout the season.


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Old 04-17-2018, 07:13 PM   #3
mikemorvan
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I guess i don't understand what your question / observation is.

My observation is that deer eat protein when they want it. When they want it, to the extent it (protein) is available, they eat all they want. But, they'll always prefer green stuff. No matter what, they've only got so much stomach space and can only eat so much.
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:31 PM   #4
TKK
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I guess i don't understand what your question / observation is.

My observation is that deer eat protein when they want it. When they want it, to the extent it (protein) is available, they eat all they want. But, they'll always prefer green stuff. No matter what, they've only got so much stomach space and can only eat so much.
please re-read my post - why would thousands upon thousands of camera pictures show bucks at a feeder for five minutes or less? Do your cameras show them there for 15 minutes or more consuming piles of the protein? If they do they that is awesome - we are free range in south texas and they do not stay at feeders long = I am not trying to start an argument - just looking for logical answers to what I have witnessed over many years
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:33 PM   #5
TKK
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[QUOTE=hchntr;13319766]I hunt lowfence ~500acres.
Llano county
Last year we put up a pen around our protein feeders to keep the hogs away. I can tell you that many times the camera showed more deer in and around the protein pen than we ever see at a corn feeder at one time. Some of those deer that were at the protein before season never showed up on camera or in person at corn feeders throughout the season.

How long were your deer staying at the protein feeder on average?
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:40 PM   #6
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please re-read my post - why would thousands upon thousands of camera pictures show bucks at a feeder for five minutes or less? Do your cameras show them there for 15 minutes or more consuming piles of the protein? If they do they that is awesome - we are free range in south texas and they do not stay at feeders long = I am not trying to start an argument - just looking for logical answers to what I have witnessed over many years
Certainly not arguing either. Now i see your question. I'd say, in your environment, it takes the deer five minutes or less to eat all the supplemental feed they care to consume. I've never been able to hunt South Texas. But from what i've read of the native browse & habitat, i think my thought makes sense. Just postulation though.
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:43 PM   #7
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Certainly not arguing either. Now i see your question. I'd say, in your environment, it takes the deer five minutes or less to eat all the supplemental feed they care to consume. I've never been able to hunt South Texas. But from what i've read of the native browse & habitat, i think my thought makes sense. Just postulation though.
And I agree - they eat all they care to consume in five minutes or less - if that is the case how much can that consumption truly add to their horn growth? That is the essence of my question
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:57 PM   #8
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Are your protein feeders close to your corn feeders? Your mature bucks will spend more time at your protein feeders if your protein feeders are nowhere near the corn feeders you hunt over and kill other deer under.



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Old 04-17-2018, 07:58 PM   #9
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Lots of my deer would stay 30mins to an hour. They won’t sit and eat the whole time but they’re back and forth. This is wet years with good browse BUT it’s not S Tx quality brush either
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:14 PM   #10
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Different regions would be different from each other, I would think. In lush, green, dense vegetation, deer wouldn't have to move far at all to eat at any time. They also don't have the unobstructed features as some more arid places. Deer down south probably have more, and more accessible feeders to chose from. I'm sure natural browse is preferred in either case.
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:20 PM   #11
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And I agree - they eat all they care to consume in five minutes or less - if that is the case how much can that consumption truly add to their horn growth? That is the essence of my question
Yeah, i got nothin' on that question. Common sense says not much. Maybe the Kleberg Institute has done research on that question??

But, if it's a 5% increase in antler size, that turns a 143" deer into a 150" deer.

Good luck cyphering it out.
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:21 PM   #12
elgato
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I think your observations are interesting.Living on a farm here in La. I watch the bucks all summer. Its fun to watch a bachelor group come to a protein feeder eat a little shift positions walk away, walk back and so forth. Pecking order in full display. I have a feeder per about 60 acres here feeding pellets from January - August .{ When acorns hit the ground deer stop the protein completely} The deer also have access to significant ag. so eating pellets is completely voluntary and by their choice.

With all that said I think your 5 mins is fairly accurate. maybe a bit more. What I see is that they eat what they want milling around the feeder maybe for 15 mins but much less time with mouth actually in the spout. Then they drift off to the fields to graze.

My strictly unscientific, unmeasured, unverifiable, observation is that the pellets add 10-15% to antler quality. I believe they get a very high quality easily digestible ration complete with vitamins, minerals, probiotic,& digestives that makes a nice compliment to their daily nutritional needs. All that in about 5 mins.

I don't run enough cameras in Mexico to offer any valuable assessment. But from watching the bucks visually I suspect the same holds true there. That excepting as the rut drags on when I've watched bucks hit the pen and camp out for a while. Easy meal for an exhausted hungry deer.
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:26 PM   #13
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[quote=TKK;13319813]
Quote:
Originally Posted by hchntr View Post
I hunt lowfence ~500acres.

Llano county

Last year we put up a pen around our protein feeders to keep the hogs away. I can tell you that many times the camera showed more deer in and around the protein pen than we ever see at a corn feeder at one time. Some of those deer that were at the protein before season never showed up on camera or in person at corn feeders throughout the season.



How long were your deer staying at the protein feeder on average?


Unfortunately I didnít pay attention to that.
in the off-season we run all 5 of our corn feeders, as well as our protein station and by far the bucks regularly hit the protein over the corn and in numbers that we typically donít see at the corn feeders. If this makes any sense.
So I guess for us, regardless of the amount of time they spend there, they are utilizing it more than corn.


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Old 04-17-2018, 08:28 PM   #14
Kdog
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Personally I think habitat rules so I agree with you it is supposed to be a supplement.

One impact that I feel gets ignored is the doe factor. If a doe has access to to the best nutrition (supplemental protein feed) she is going to produce a better buck fawn. If she has protein (designed for deer) available and she is eating it the buck will grow better while inside and have access to better milk once he is born. There is a study out there that shows this, but for the life of me I cannot find it.

I feel it also has a great impact on your fawn recruitment, so you end up with more deer than you would otherwise.

Personally I think there should be as much focus (if not more) on habitat as feeding. But it is easier in a lot of cases to just pour on the feed than to look at your habitat and take steps to make it better. And in some cases there are limits to what you can do. I made my first serious attempt at putting in a significant food plot (although small by most standards, like around 1 acre total) this year in Kinney county. Problem is it hasn't rained since I planted it about 7 weeks ago, even though there has been rain in the forecast and several times when it should have rained but we missed it. At the end of the day though I know that creating the edge habitat will pay off because something will grow there eventually.

Those are just my thoughts, anecdotal for the most part.

Last edited by Kdog; 04-17-2018 at 08:31 PM.
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:28 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by elgato View Post
I think your observations are interesting.Living on a farm here in La. I watch the bucks all summer. Its fun to watch a bachelor group come to a protein feeder eat a little shift positions walk away, walk back and so forth. Pecking order in full display. I have a feeder per about 60 acres here feeding pellets from January - August .{ When acorns hit the ground deer stop the protein completely} The deer also have access to significant ag. so eating pellets is completely voluntary and by their choice.

With all that said I think your 5 mins is fairly accurate. maybe a bit more. What I see is that they eat what they want milling around the feeder maybe for 15 mins but much less time with mouth actually in the spout. Then they drift off to the fields to graze.

My strictly unscientific, unmeasured, unverifiable, observation is that the pellets add 10-15% to antler quality. I believe they get a very high quality easily digestible ration complete with vitamins, minerals, probiotic,& digestives that makes a nice compliment to their daily nutritional needs. All that in about 5 mins.

I don't run enough cameras in Mexico to offer any valuable assessment. But from watching the bucks visually I suspect the same holds true there. That excepting as the rut drags on when I've watched bucks hit the pen and camp out for a while. Easy meal for an exhausted hungry deer.
.

Very thoughtfull answer. Thanks. Makes sense
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:31 PM   #16
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Shoooottttttt I feed protein on our 100 acre place
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:33 PM   #17
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I think you're 100 percent spot on... especially talking brush country deer. But rain or no rain I'm going to have supplemental feed available. Does it contribute much during times of elevated precipitation? Probably some but not much, but for sure there is a noticeable difference during drought conditions. I've seen deer in the past that during prime conditions will almost completely leave the supplement, but once that long summer starts up with little rain they'll be a regular again.
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:39 PM   #18
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Do you have 1 or 2 protein feeders per station? Do you also have cottonseed available at each station? Corn? Water? Whatís your feeder density per acre? What brand feed? How long have you fed?
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:42 PM   #19
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I'll add that I see deer hitting the feeders everyday almost irrespective of pasture conditions. Certainly here in La.on the farm there is top quality cultivars growing year round. Yet the deer make the feeders part of their daily routine. I think visiting the feeder has a strong social element to it. Anecdotally I think there is something about the feed also that they really like and need as well. Right now we are in full blown spring green up. Lushness abounds. Clover fields are amazing. New growth is everywhere. Yet the deer are pounding the feeders.

In Mexico we feed year round. While consumption may drop off a little when the pastures are really green it doesn't drop off much. That on a very well managed habitat.
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Old 04-17-2018, 09:23 PM   #20
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Do you have 1 or 2 protein feeders per station? Do you also have cottonseed available at each station? Corn? Water? Whatís your feeder density per acre? What brand feed? How long have you fed?
Oh god...smh
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Old 04-17-2018, 09:30 PM   #21
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Oh god...smh


They are honest questions that may explain his observations. Your weak attempt of an insult didnít go unnoticed. Do you have anything to add?
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Old 04-18-2018, 12:51 AM   #22
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I'm think the supplemental feeding thing is a combination of outdoor TV and record book ego. I'm not about to spend hundreds of dollars a year feeding deer to get 10-20" of more horns on them.....if it even makes that much difference. I don't run cameras either. If a deer shows up fine, if not, oh well.

I'm probably in the minority but so be it. It's a deer, not a show heifer.
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Old 04-18-2018, 08:40 AM   #23
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Interesting read! Thanks for asking that...
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Old 04-18-2018, 08:50 AM   #24
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I'm think the supplemental feeding thing is a combination of outdoor TV and record book ego. I'm not about to spend hundreds of dollars a year feeding deer to get 10-20" of more horns on them.....if it even makes that much difference. I don't run cameras either. If a deer shows up fine, if not, oh well.

I'm probably in the minority but so be it. It's a deer, not a show heifer.
If I could get an extra 20 inches on my deer I'd spend more than a few hundred. That would be awesome!
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Old 04-18-2018, 09:30 AM   #25
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To answer your question I think a deer can eat a lb or so in 5 minutes.
Does it make a difference, I think so. My neighbors ranch is about same size as mine and similar habitat & they feed sporadically. There is a notable difference in the quality of antlers between us regardless of wet or dry years. This is based on a decade plus of observations.
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Old 04-18-2018, 09:49 AM   #26
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There is so much natural supplements the protein and corn is only a small portion of there diet
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Old 04-18-2018, 11:24 AM   #27
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IĒm going to give my experience on this subject but I in now way believe this is the rule.

I have 250 acres of high fence with very very thick vegetation. I have 2 protein feeders and feed about a ton of protein per month.

I see the same thing. Bucks never spend more than 5 mins at a feeder but they do come back several if not many times per day and often to a different feeder each time. Iíve literally seen some of my big bucks eat then sleep at the feeder then an hour later show up at the other feeder and eat again. I know they also brows because Iíve seen them doing it.

The property Iím on belongs to a deer breeder. He told me a long time ago than when he released bucks onto the main property they would usually loose 10 to 20 inches the second year of being in the wild. But I the deer I have put out there on my place have always gained at least 10 inches the following years. He doesnít really feed much protein on his property but my deer have it 24/7.

So I think it makes a difference but Iím also in a more controlled environment.


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Old 04-18-2018, 09:22 PM   #28
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I don’t know if all deer that eat at a protein feeder get “enough” to make a difference. But I believe that some deer do. And that is good enough for me.
I think a deer that is eating at 2-3 or more protein feeders across the ranch has a better chance of getting “enough”.
I see a potential problem with only feeding protein during drought years. Let’s say we get 5-6 years with good range conditions and we don’t supplement feed anything but corn out of broadcast feeders. We watch most of the bucks. We remove a few and let these good ones go year after year, with hopes of allowing them to maximize antler potential. Then a drought hits. So we panic. We start filling up existing protein feeders and maybe set up a few new ones because we have some really nice 5-6-7 year olds that we are looking forward to hunting. Now most of our deer have never seen a protein pellet. Are they going to eat it?
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Old 04-18-2018, 09:26 PM   #29
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I donít know if all deer that eat at a protein feeder get ďenoughĒ to make a difference. But I believe that some deer do. And that is good enough for me.
I think a deer that is eating at 2-3 or more protein feeders across the ranch has a better chance of getting ďenoughĒ.
I see a potential problem with only feeding protein during drought years. Letís say we get 5-6 years with good range conditions and we donít supplement feed anything but corn out of broadcast feeders. We watch most of the bucks. We remove a few and let these good ones go year after year, with hopes of allowing them to maximize antler potential. Then a drought hits. So we panic. We start filling up existing protein feeders and maybe set up a few new ones because we have some really nice 5-6-7 year olds that we are looking forward to hunting. Now most of our deer have never seen a protein pellet. Are they going to eat it?


It might take them a few months to start eating it, but if they keep seeing other deer eat from it and believe me they can smell it, eventually they will start eating it.


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Old 04-18-2018, 10:26 PM   #30
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It might take them a few months to start eating it, but if they keep seeing other deer eat from it and believe me they can smell it, eventually they will start eating it.


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Thatís the problem. Im not sure any deer would be eating. Iím sure they would figure it out eventually, but 2-3-4 months might be too long.
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Old 04-18-2018, 10:34 PM   #31
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There are definitely a lot of feedlot scenarios in Texas and especially south Texas. The quantities of feed being consumed is way more than most very large cattle operations.
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