So you want to raise whitetail deer? There is a lot more to it than just buying some land and throwing up a fence!
Nutrition is key. Having the right protein, vitamins and minerals are very important to a deer’s diet. The nutritional requirements that deer have changed with the seasons, pregnant or nursing does require different nutrients than bucks would need during a time of peak antler growth.
A feeding program is a must. Although deer tend to forage for food and can get most of their nutrients from a good pasture, certain times of the year can make it necessary to supplement the diet. There are numerous options available in pelleted forms, Purina and Nutrena have feed available for herds. You can also have a custom formula made at a feed mill.
Handling is also very important. We have a network of gates that runs through our barn and into a chute that allows us to safely vaccinate and monitor deer. This maze system seems simple but works almost flawlessly as we work deer from the field and into the chute and back out into pens. Having a facility that allows us to handle the herd in this way prevents us from having to dart deer, which can be risky. The barn also works as a great holding area in preparation for transportation in the event that the deer are sold.
Every year we have to cut the horns off of our yearlings. With such massive racks if they were to start fighting it could break their skull plate and kill the animal.
And of course, an adequate health program is absolutely necessary. It can be difficult to find a veterinarian that is specialized in deer. Keeping up to date on all of the information that is available on maintaining the health of your herd can make assisting your vet easier. Most vaccinations can be picked up at a local vet’s office with a prescription and basic antibiotics can be purchased over the counter at farm retail stores.
It’s not always easy living over here. The “mysterious” killer. Flies can kill your trophy buck in the field or on our preserve. We saved this big boys life.
Now, this is just the basics, but it’s a great place to start. You can always call the office and talk with one of us here. We offer consulting to individuals that are looking to start a herd of their own. Give us a call anytime (616) 724-9384!