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I have a question about the value of protein feeding? #7143730 04/18/18 12:24 AM
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I have had the privilege of running a high end LF south texas ranch for years.

As I reflect about the supplemental feeding here is my summary. We run 20-30 trail cameras per year and set them on two pics every five minutes. We have looked at thousands upon thousands of pictures. Rarely does a buck stay in the pen eating protein for more than five minutes.

My question is this - how much protein can a deer consume in five minutes or less? Compare that to how much they can consume over the course of a day with natural habitat/browse or a food plot? The cameras do not lie - I see what I see and most bucks do not spend enough time at a feeder to consume enough feed to make a difference IMO.

In drought conditions I believe protein and cottonseed pay their way. During good range conditions? I wonder if the cost is worth it?

NOTE: If in a controlled setting where the property is HF or partially HF and budget is no issue then placing a protein feeder every 100 acres like a feed lot will most certainly pay off. But for most hunters that option is not available due to cost and leasing options (small ranches, etc.)

So I am wondering what I am missing? I get that protein feeding is the popular and promoted world we live in - but is it really the difference in growing big deer in free range situations?

STXranchman I am curious as to your thoughts

Last edited by tlk; 04/18/18 12:35 AM.

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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7143875 04/18/18 02:21 AM
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Youíll never convince me that feeding protein to deer on 90% of properties in this state is doing anything but keeping feed mills in business. Even then, break down the dollars spent per inch gained, and itís rarely worth the money or effort, in my mind.

Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7143884 04/18/18 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted By: tlk
I have had the privilege of running a high end LF south texas ranch for years.

As I reflect about the supplemental feeding here is my summary. We run 20-30 trail cameras per year and set them on two pics every five minutes. We have looked at thousands upon thousands of pictures. Rarely does a buck stay in the pen eating protein for more than five minutes.

My question is this - how much protein can a deer consume in five minutes or less? Compare that to how much they can consume over the course of a day with natural habitat/browse or a food plot? The cameras do not lie - I see what I see and most bucks do not spend enough time at a feeder to consume enough feed to make a difference IMO.

In drought conditions I believe protein and cottonseed pay their way. During good range conditions? I wonder if the cost is worth it?

NOTE: If in a controlled setting where the property is HF or partially HF and budget is no issue then placing a protein feeder every 100 acres like a feed lot will most certainly pay off. But for most hunters that option is not available due to cost and leasing options (small ranches, etc.)

So I am wondering what I am missing? I get that protein feeding is the popular and promoted world we live in - but is it really the difference in growing big deer in free range situations?

STXranchman I am curious as to your thoughts


Supplemental feeding is just that, a food source that supplements the natural browse.

Can it make a difference? Absolutely, based on my 30+ years hunting in East Texas. Bucks that hit protein feeders develop more mass at earlier ages than bucks that are limited to available browse. But it doesn't translate into a lot more deer since deer disperse themselves to natural browse and cover in much the same manner no matter how much you feed them.

It becomes more obvious when you see a 3-1/2 year old buck that has the mass of an older buck but on a smaller frame.

Just my $.02.

Last edited by Texas Dan; 04/18/18 02:35 AM.

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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: Sneaky] #7143943 04/18/18 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted By: Sneaky
You’ll never convince me that feeding protein to deer on 90% of properties in this state is doing anything but keeping feed mills in business. Even then, break down the dollars spent per inch gained, and it’s rarely worth the money or effort, in my mind.


In Runnels county, there are so many that are feeding protein and corn etc., practically year round, that most low fence operations will see the effect on their place without feeding. There are 2 places that border our place and they both feed corn year around, the protein starting in Jan and going through May. The deer in that area bed down on our place and another place. We crank up our feeders in September, and the deer start to spend more time on our 2 places than the neighbors that feed all year because we have the majority of the cover on our place.


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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7143946 04/18/18 03:53 AM
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I hear people comment on how expensive it is to feed protein. If deer aren't eating much of it then why would it be expensive?


Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: postoak] #7144030 04/18/18 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted By: postoak
I hear people comment on how expensive it is to feed protein. If deer aren't eating much of it then why would it be expensive?


I know that almost 100% of protein is fed in gravity feeders and as you say, they say it is expensive. I wonder how much corn I would go through in a week if I fed it the same way compared to how I feed now, which is using a spin feeder to control the amount they get each day. Would I be saying that corn is just too expensive to feed?


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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7144048 04/18/18 12:21 PM
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Huntin over green just feels better. I would'nt know about the feeder deal. Killed a deer when I was a kid eating under a feeder. Felt like shooting a cow at a trough. Now days they feed deer out of feed troughs. Just seems wrong. Grow some green.


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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7144121 04/18/18 01:17 PM
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Maybe I'm foolish in feeding so much protein but for some reason I just love these crazy deer. Maybe I have an addiction. My experience with protein is limited to the last few years since I bought my place. I have seen a big increase in the number of deer I am seeing vs. just feeding corn spinning. I also see that the younger deer seem to be putting on weight faster. I feed protein and corn year around on my LF place but so far have been pretty lucky and don't have a lot of close hunting pressure on my bordering fence. Heck I didn't even shoot a deer last season but I will carry on just as I have done the last few seasons. I do also plant wheat in the fall but to be honest rain has been so scarce the last few falls in my area if anything is a waste it would probably be that.

Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7144160 04/18/18 01:42 PM
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Corn is not protein, or at least it's not equal to protein type feeds. Corn is candy, it draws them in and keeps them coming back.

For protein to work, you really can't allow them to eat anything else. This is why the really big bucks that you see on deer farms are in small pens without anything growing in there. There are other reasons that they are in small pens too, like being able to sell them when they are grown out and ready to be shot on a hunting ranch. They eat protein, and only protein, and their racks grow freakishly big, extremely quickly from this diet. Other things play into that, but if those same bucks are left in a pasture with natural food to eat, the following year they are not nearly as impressive as they where when they where kept in that small pasture.

Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7144186 04/18/18 02:16 PM
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Been feeding protein for more than 20 years now. It definitely makes a difference during drought. And it may permit you to carry a higher deer density than you could, otherwise. When conditions are excellent such as they have been the past three years on our place in Webb County, and you have a bunch of good browse, the deer eat very little protein. The one big benefit is the mineral packs in protein pellets. I think that's probably more important in overall herd health than anything else. But all other things being equal, I'd rather have high-fenced food plots of lablab than pellets, IF we had the ability to irrigate. Which we do not.

tlk, you've probably seen this study since it dates back to 1991. If not, some decent reading.

https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_bk_w7000_0033.pdf

Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7144260 04/18/18 03:36 PM
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I think protein really pays dividends in two ways, in hard times, and like anything else we hunters put out, attraction.

Since you said LF I think it could matter a lot. 10,000 acres LF with a 100 acre neighbor with a 2000 lb free choice protein feeder could pull a lot of deer.

I do also share your curiosity about protein feed as we have put cameras on them also and several of our better deer have never showed at one... on the other hand some practically live at one.

My buddies HF place they see almost everything at the protein feeders.


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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7144565 04/18/18 07:54 PM
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1. It is SUPPLEMENTAL feed; you aren't replacing their food source, just augmenting what's available.
2. It is a complete food source, with large quantities of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They don't have to eat a little oak brush, and a little clover, and a few acorns to put it all together. This can cover deficiencies in your range.
3. They have to do zero work to get it other than jump in a pen and chew. No grazing or browsing is required, meaning they burn almost no calories while consuming it.
4. Have you ever seen livestock eat feed? Our goats can inhale a half pound of cubes in a flash. Five minutes at a protein feeder for a deer is a lot of feed.


You're basically encouraging them to over-eat while at the same time reducing the stress on them required to make a living.


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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7145183 04/19/18 02:27 PM
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deer are different. I've have thousands of pics of deer eating for 10-15 minutes straight. I had a deer years ago that would hang out for an hour eating. We had water stations inside the feeder pen though, and that makes a difference on how much protein a deer will eat at one time.

Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: kyle1974] #7145545 04/19/18 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted By: kyle1974
deer are different. I've have thousands of pics of deer eating for 10-15 minutes straight. I had a deer years ago that would hang out for an hour eating. We had water stations inside the feeder pen though, and that makes a difference on how much protein a deer will eat at one time.
Yep, if you don't have your protein feeders fairly close to water, you're spinning your wheels.


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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7145933 04/20/18 02:04 AM
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My 2 cents...

I put an all,season protein feeder up over The Weeknd. I have more pics of deer on that feeder then I did on the corn feeder for two weeks before...


I do a 50/50 split with protein and corn

Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: Cleric] #7145962 04/20/18 02:33 AM
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Originally Posted By: Cleric
My 2 cents...

I put an all,season protein feeder up over The Weeknd. I have more pics of deer on that feeder then I did on the corn feeder for two weeks before...


I do a 50/50 split with protein and corn


What protein do you mix in with the corn?

Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7145964 04/20/18 02:35 AM
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When you are feeding protein, one thing many folks aren't aware of, is that quality protein feed will have copper in it also. If you are leasing and your landowner has sheep, copper will kill sheep. Another reason to have pens up.

Another thing to take into account is that as the year progresses the natural forage deer eat will lose it's protein value and most of the time, unless it is a very wet year, what they end up eating is mostly fiber because the plants dry out.

Just stuff to think about.

Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: shea.mcphail] #7145975 04/20/18 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted By: shea.mcphail
Originally Posted By: Cleric
My 2 cents...

I put an all,season protein feeder up over The Weeknd. I have more pics of deer on that feeder then I did on the corn feeder for two weeks before...


I do a 50/50 split with protein and corn


What protein do you mix in with the corn?


antler max

Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7146923 04/21/18 07:08 AM
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I see a difference in weight but not really in the antlers until 4 years and up. Recovery post rut is great. Now geographical locations make a difference and are actually in my situation the opposite of what I expected. Our lease in Hays county where there are not of lot of natural high protien browse does not get hit hard by the whitetail but the red stag demolish it. Now the place that we own north of Comstock the whitetail hit the protien real steady but hard to measure antler development due to hi pressure on our fence lines. We have a bunch of young 8ís who are showing decent mass,and tine length. Now body size is great, but there is a lot of natural high protien browse here so are the signs due to the supplemental or the browse. Probably a good mix of both and during drought we will really see it pay off.


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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7146925 04/21/18 07:56 AM
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Ahhh, questions in the middle of the night. Young 8s can be great, but is the 8 gene stuck? It is a natural and common growth, like in the bible. Some irragated deer peas and fertilizer may push out some extra abnormal points, but it may be on an 8 point frame.


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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7146978 04/21/18 12:05 PM
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I may be wrong and I am quite a bit according to some but here are my thoughts on feeding protein. I believe if you are going to do it you have to be serious about it. You need to have out self feeders where the Deer have a constant supply of all they want to eat. You are going to need deep pockets and don't care about the cost. Second You are going to have to keep this up for a number of years. Third. You are going to have to take out any Bucks or Does that don't look like they have the features you are looking for. Fourth. You are going to have to get to a good Buck to Doe ratio. Unless you are HF or have a reasonably large place you are spinning your wheels. Unless you have some good genetics to start with again you are spinning your wheels.

Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7146983 04/21/18 12:17 PM
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Deer breeders use it. Dont know if those deer know what grass or acorns are. Guess the breeders get their money back. A hunter just gets more broke.


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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: REALKILLER] #7147008 04/21/18 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted By: REALKILLER
Deer breeders use it. Dont know if those deer know what grass or acorns are. Guess the breeders get their money back. A hunter just gets more broke.


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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: REALKILLER] #7147177 04/21/18 04:51 PM
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Agree, and like Don K said it takes a few years and you have to be dedicated. My place in Hays has some very large neighbors but the deer use donít seem to hit the protien. But we are able to let deer get age due to low hunting pressure. We are only in year 3 feeding protien on this place and year 2 on the Val Verde place. The Val Verde place is 500+/- and lots of pressure from some neighbors. We have to get the ratio i check as well in Val Verde and that will definitely help


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Re: I have a question about the value of protein feeding? [Re: tlk] #7147204 04/21/18 05:29 PM
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Never fed protein and probably never will, but that doesn't mean much. If you want antlers you have to have fed and plenty of it. If it's taking everything they have just to survive there's nothing left for antler growth. I don't just feed the deer I over feed them, first it keeps them on the place and second it definitely makes a difference in antler growth. As dry as it is this year I'm afraid I'm going to have to feed during the summer or it will be another 2011 when we lost almost 90% of our fawn crop and close to 50 head of cows. I don't want to see that again, probably going to put in some cotton seed feeders.

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