Deer in Summer
Keeping Deer Healthy
in the Hot Summer Months
For the most part, deer adapt well to a wide range of temperatures and
climates. But there are three things you can do in the hot summer months to
give deer a better chance of survival: provide shade and shelter from the
elements, provide a dependable water supply and supplement their diet with
nutrients that are in short supply this time of year.
Here are a few hot-weather tips:
• If you raise deer, make sure they have access to shelter and shade to
prevent heat stress. Wild deer in good habitat can usually find enough shade
under trees and shrubs.
• A stable water supply is crucial to the viability of the deer herd. Deer
need to consume about three pounds of water for every pound of dry matter
consumed. If they can’t drink, they won’t eat. And it they don’t eat enough,
over time you’ll see inhibited growth of fawns, lactation failure by does,
low birth and weaning weights, and an inconsistent fawning period.
• Water intake is especially critical during periods of high metabolic
demand, much of which occurs in summer. This would include the early months
of life for growing fawns, the antler growth period for bucks, and gestation
and lactation in does.
• How do you define a stable water source? In an area like west Texas, a
dependable water source every 1 to 1.5 miles is considered adequate. Deer
generally prefer to drink from ponds or streams but will readily use
livestock water troughs.
• Typically in summer, forage quality declines just when the does are
lactating and the bucks are in a period of maximum antler growth.
Supplementing their diets now with AntlerMax® Deer 20 can help to overcome
the “nutritional gap.”
• Antlers are one of the fastest growing tissues in the animal kingdom.
Obviously, if the required nutrients are in short supply during antler
growth period, several things can happen, none of them good:
--antler growth rate will slow. Since antlers grow for only a set number of
weeks, antlers growing at a rate of 3 grams a day instead of 5 grams a day
will yield a disappointing result.
--the antlers will lack mass and density, making them weaker and more
susceptible to breakage.
--desirable characteristics, such as antler mass, number of points and beam
circumference will be negatively affected.
When you consider that a buck will use nutrients in order of priority:
first, to support necessary body functions, and, second, for antler growth,
then you understand why supplementing a deer’s diet in summer is so
Protein and minerals play a huge role in determining the size of a set of
antlers. A product such as Purina Mills® AntlerMax® with patented Protein
and Mineral Technology can give bucks a big advantage.
• Feeding deer adequately in summer and autumn is one of the most effective
ways to ensure their wellbeing in future months. Supplementation allows the
bucks to build body condition in preparation for the autumn rut. Heading
into a harsh winter in good body condition gives bucks, does and fawns a
better chance of survival.
• Here’s another tip. It’s not too early to think about next year. If you’re
planting a spring-summer food plot, consider legumes such as American
jointvetch, Alyceclover, peas, pinto beans, soybeans and lablab. These
spring-summer plots will supply early nutrition in the critical first phase
of antler growth. Fall-winter food plots, which usually consist of small
grains and/or winter peas, will help maintain body condition over the winter
and get the bucks ready for antler growth next year.
Have a great summer!