Sportsmen looking for the captive hunt experience have no shortage of options these days. There are hundreds of game ranches in the United States offering the chance to hunt whitetail deer in picturesque preserves. When hunters arrive, they expect to find majestic deer with massive and healthy antler racks, animals that have been fed a nutrient-rich diet.
So, what do you need to feed your deer if you want to give hunters the biggest bang for each buck? Trials show that seaweed may be essential for ranchers to satisfy deer nutritional requirements and increase the overall diameter and length of their antlers.
Though the nutritional needs of whitetails vary depending on the season, there are some hallmark nutrients that are essential to any deer’s diet. Calcium and phosphorous promote growth of sturdy bones and antlers, and bucks that lack these minerals during their juvenile years deal with delayed antler growth and velvet shedding, taking longer for their racks to solidify.
Some suggest a diet containing at least a 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio aligns best with deer nutrient requirements. Since calcium and phosphorus are stored within the bones of deer until necessary for antler growth, these are not required on a daily basis, but ranchers should monitor intake of these minerals to ensure a reliable bank when the time comes. Other nutrients like magnesium are required in lesser quantities, but are still vital to promoting robust antler growth.
In the wild, whitetails would depend on finding and consuming plants with high levels of calcium (or chewing dry bones when necessary). On a preserve, there are plenty of supplements that make deer nutrient management and antler growth less uncertain. Using seaweed for deer diets not only supplies the resources needed for desirable antler growth but cultivates a healthy GI tract and immune system.
The brown seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum is a reliable source of the calcium and magnesium essential to the growth of deer antlers. Including a cost-effective amount of dry seaweed in a herd’s feed regimen can ensure that bucks have essential nutrients to grow formidable antler racks and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
For example, in a trial conducted in South Texas, deer farmers registered a dramatic increase in the length and diameter of their herd’s antlers when fed Tasco® seaweed supplements. The cross-section of the Tasco® fed deer antlers were full-bodied and thicker than those in the control group. In addition to supporting antler growth, the right amount of seaweed feed supplement also fostered greater resilience and immune health for bucks, does and calves.
Want to learn more about how seaweed fits into deer nutrient management? Contact our seaweed experts for further information Tasco® deer trials on in your region.