Mineral beds for deer antler growth

Mineral beds for health of your deer herd

Minerals play an important part in deer antler production, a bucks antlers are about 50% organic matter, mostly proteins. Minerals are quite abundant consisting mostly of calcium and phosphorus, if demands for these minerals are met on a daily basis, antler production can be significantly increased. Three things effect antler size, age, genetics and nutrients. There is very little we can do about genetics, age can be helped by developing a QDM program(quality deer management) but many hunters don’t have patients it takes to see these through. Adding supplemental food and minerals is really all we have much control over as a hunter. Deer hunting has become expensive and many hunters just want as much meat for their money as possible.
Minerals are needed for the health of your deer herd and are just as important to a doe. Does need the minerals to put back what is passed through their milk to their young. They pass high amounts of calcium and phosphorus on to their young for bone development, through their milk. Phosphorus can’t be reproduced by a does body making these added minerals a great aide in the health of the deer herd. For bucks minerals are needed from May- Sept. for the antler growth, and does need these minerals from Dec.-July, for development of their fawns.
A good location to use the mineral beds is near well traveled trails, near water or food sources and even close range of bedding areas, making it easier for deer to locate the mineral beds. We use a number of different recipes, trying to find what works best for deer in this area. We’ll put mineral beds and a few locations dividing the property in sections. This is to give all the deer access to the mineral beds because mature deer will keep other deer from their areas, forcing younger deer to look elsewhere. Normally all beds we make are 3-6ft. Circle which we add minerals and mix with earth, then we water them in soaking the entire bed.
Some of our goals when providing these minerals is to find a balance between, what’s best for the deer and what the deer are actually attracted to. For example deer crave salt/sodium but it’s minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, that is better for health. What to look for is keeping salt/sodium in the 40-50% range, calcium in the 13-16% range, phosphorus 5-8%, magnesium and potassium in the .5-1% range. We use a variety many times on the same property just to get a feel for which they prefer, if the deer won’t hit them, it doesn’t matter how good it is for them.

Typical mineral bed

Whitetail deer will eat these holes in the earth to get the much needed minerals.
Whitetail deer will eat these holes in the earth to get the much needed minerals.

Mineral bed recipes

Here’s some of the recipes we use:
Mix#1
Makes about 200lbs or enough for 5-8 beds(200-400acres)
Ingredients: (available from local feed stores)
50lbs-Di-calcium phosphate -50lb bags, you need 1
100lbs Trace mineral salt (loose kind with no medications)-50lb bags, you need 2
50lbs Salt(ice cream salt, solar salt, rock salt something that can be consumed by animals) - 50lb bag, you need 1
All together should cost between $25-$35, mix these 1part Di-cal, 2part Trace min, 1part Salt, you can mix them with coffee cans, buckets, or something as long as you keep the mix equal. Make your beds as described in the above article and water them in.

Mix#2
Makes about 300lbs
Ingredients:
50lbs Di-calcium
50lbs Hy Phos (green bag)
100lbs Trace mineral salt
50lbs Solar salt
50lbs Stockade dried molasses (can be very hard to get, we’ve used liquid mixed with water before, when watering in the bed)
Use the same amounts and methods as the first recipe, sometimes the molasses is needed to draw their attention.

Mix#3
Makes enough for one small mineral bed
6lbs salt
2cups baking soda
11/2cups baking powder
18oz. Molasses
20-500mg potassium gluconate tablets
10-250mg magnesium tablets
5gallons-boiling water
Mix together in the boiling water to dissolve the ingredients then make a mineral bed as you would with any other mix.

Mineral tags

Here's a comparison of deer minerals and general minerals for cattle, goats and sheep. You'll find very little difference other than price
Here's a comparison of deer minerals and general minerals for cattle, goats and sheep. You'll find very little difference other than price

Buying minerals for deer

We've found from checking labels that buying general minerals for cattle, goats, sheep or other livestock has basically the same minerals as deer mixes except that cost is about half. The biggest difference is salt content is higher in the general minerals which can be changed by adding a bucket of Di-calcium to a 50lb bag and there is a lot less mixing. Deer hunters are always looking for bigger racks and this is a great way to increase deer antler size and improve the overall health of your deer herd.

Bucks quit using mineral beds once the velvet comes off

You can see that the velvet has started coming off the right side antler. Once this starts we'll no longer get pics of these bucks at the mineral beds, they'll still come to feeders and food plots but they don't need the minerals until antlers fall
You can see that the velvet has started coming off the right side antler. Once this starts we'll no longer get pics of these bucks at the mineral beds, they'll still come to feeders and food plots but they don't need the minerals until antlers fall

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