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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Take care of your deer population

Friday, May 3, 2002

With Missouri's turkey season about to come to an end or it is already over for you, it is that time of year again to take care of your local deer population. In the month of May the does start feeding frequently to provide for the needs of their fetus, since fetus growth is accelerated. Also velvet growth starts this month and winter hair shedding is taking place and deer need more salt.

This was passed to me from a private land conservationist from Missouri Department of Conservation in the county I have land in. This is just one example of how working with any game and fish department can benefit you. So now I am passing it along to you. You will be amazed at how well this works. The ultimate goal of mineral supplements in deer management is to increase antler size and improve overall health of deer herds by providing minerals or trace minerals that may be lacking in a given area.

However, the jury is still out on effects of mineral supplements on wild deer populations since most studies have been on pen-raised deer. Studies on wild population have been inconclusive and to a degree the same on pen-raised deer due to other variables such as supplemental feeding that takes place in these areas. The direct benefits will probably be far greater in certain regions that lack certain trace minerals in the soil and plants.

One mixture or home recipe of deer minerals we recommend to landowners is a mix of one part Dicalcium Phosphate, 2 parts trace mineral salt (loose), and 1 part loose stock salt. All of these are available to purchase at most local feed and farm supply stores.

Just to give you a little background on these minerals and what they are designed to do lets start with the Dicalcium Phosphate.

Dicalcium Phosphate is used primarily as dairy cattle feed additive and other animal feeds. It promotes feed digestion, weight gain and milk production, which is obviously beneficial to a lactating doe deer. Dicalcium Phosphate contains roughly between 18 and 21 percent phosphorus and 19 to 23 percent calcium.

You're probably asking why this is important by now. Well, if your talking about growing antlers on deer you need to take a look at what is the makeup of a deer antler.

Hardened antlers contain 40 to 50 percent organic matter from mostly proteins while the most abundant minerals consist of calcium and phosphorus. The demands for these minerals on a daily basis can be significant for antler production.

In addition, a lactating doe's milk contains high percentages of both calcium and phosphorus to pass on to their young, also causing a significant mineral drain on the doe. What makes all this significant is the fact that phosphorous cannot be synthesized by the body so it must be provided in needed levels in the animal's diet. This is where a mineral mix such as this could be very valuable if an area is lacking in these naturally.

Trace mineral salts do two things for deer. The first and foremost is it does have the salt/sodium to attract the deer and promote the use of the mineral. Secondly, it provides the trace minerals such as magnesium and potassium that are very important to herd health but are not found in significant quantities like others.

Stock salt is again like part of the above. It has the sodium to attract deer to the minerals. Most mineral mixes have salt as their most abundant ingredient since a mix of just phosphorus, calcium, and other trace minerals have little attraction to deer once mixed with the soil.

As for directions of use we suggest using a 3-pound coffee can to measure out 1 part Dicalcium Phosphate, 2 parts trace mineral salt, and 1 part stock salt. Mix all these together once ready to use but keep components separate during storage. Dig a hole in the soil about 36-inches wide and 6-inches deep and mix the mineral well with the soil. This should be replenished after six months and then once a year thereafter. Most use seems to be during the spring and summer months on mineral licks. It's a good idea to keep these areas replenished and stocked in the same spot to maintain use. Because of shedding of the winter coat begins this time of year, the deer need the salt now, and maybe this year you will get this out also to help with antler growth and fawn health.

Ingredients: Makes 200 lbs. for about $23. 1 part Dicalcium Phosphate, this is a dairy feed additive bought at feed stores. Comes in 50 lb. bags at around $11. You need one bag.

2 parts trace mineral salt, the red and loose kind without the medications. Comes in 50 lb. bags at around $5. You need two bags.

1 part stock salt, ice cream salt. Comes in 50 lb. bags at around $2. You need one bag.


-Use a 3 pound or similar size coffee can to use as your measure for each part of the mix.

-Mix all together well but not until read to use, keep ingredients separate until ready to put to use.

-Dig or tear up a circle in the soil about 36 inches wide and about 6 inches deep.

-Mix your mineral mixture with the soil.


-Replenish in 6 months with fresh supply of mineral, and then each year there after.

Hope to see you in the woods or on the water. Horntagger.