Ask The Biologist

In the Bone

In the Bone

By Bob Humphrey

Antlers are full of minerals, so should we feed whitetails mineral supplements?

QUESTION: What, if any, is the best mineral to feed deer? I add Hi-Mag mineral salt to my feed in the summertime and was wondering if I’m on track for helping antler growth. –Jerry A.

ANSWER: Minerals are an important part of a whitetail’s diet. Not only do they contribute to antler growth, they’re also necessary for body growth and function. The best way to provide minerals is still from the soil, via plants, but mineral supplements might provide some benefit.

There are plenty of options in terms of commercial minerals intended for antler growth.

I suggest you pick one with a high proportion of calcium and phosphorus and at least some magnesium. Basic feed store blocks designed for cows are often high in sodium, which will attract deer but won’t do much for antler growth or nutrition.

The better deer supplements also have trace amounts of minerals including potassium, barium, iron, aluminum, zinc, strontium and manganese. We’re not sure what, if any, role these play in antler growth, but they occur in antlers, so they must be there for a reason.

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Copyright 2019 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

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