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Winter feeding

sep0667

Land of the Whitetail
I've wanted to put out alfalfa bales and corn for a few years now after seeing and hearing how it really helps with finding some sheds due to it helping to keep the deer close. I put out three square alfalfa bales and 100 lbs of corn in a spot saturday evening and put a cam over it. Starting Sunday morning all the way to right now as I type this I have had deer on it nonstop. Maybe have gone 1 hour without something on the pile. I think my cell cam batteries are going to die out quick! Already upped that cam to unlimited pics. Pretty crazy. Anyone done this? Is this normal that they just are pounding the pile this much or just a bit of a fluke to start off. Might have to put out more bales/corn sooner than I thought. Im sort of worried that this could be bad for their stomachs too, as I have read about that. This little timber patch butts up to a huge corn/bean field section though, so they should be accustomed to it?

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Matthewfox_45

PMA Member
My son got a feeder for his birthday last year. We put it out after season ends…it’s programmable. Don’t know if it really helps them much, but it gives us some nice pics and we get an inventory of some of the deer for next year.
 
I've done hay and corn in the past, but mostly just grass hay as that's what I have on hand anyway. One square bale will last quite a while, but seems like we've had some pretty mild winters with not much snow cover. I'd say they hit it harder with a good amount of snow as it's easier to get to. Alfalfa or something with a lot of clover would be different I'm sure. I'd say if the deer are already eating corn in the fields, they should be fine, unless it's a matter of the quantity (pile vs. picking through a cut field). Others probably have more input on that. A timed feeder would limit the quantity and they'd possibly do a better job cleaning up and not waste as much.
They (and all other critters) would definitely learn the schedule or that the feeder noise means food.
 

203ntyp

PMA Member
I put shelled corn and alfalfa the last two years after the season in hopes of finding a shed. Had one shed in the alfalfa once. It did allow me to keep an eye on a huge 10 point 2 years ago, he didn't shed at the food source but when I got a picture in mid-February of him shed out, I immediately headed out to search for the sheds. Found them about 50 yards away on a trail leading to the food. I wouldn't recommend hay; I've heard that can do more harm than good. I have just corn out now, 25 lbs. at a time spread out, alfalfa is too expensive if you don't grow it.
 
I put shelled corn and alfalfa the last two years after the season in hopes of finding a shed. Had one shed in the alfalfa once. It did allow me to keep an eye on a huge 10 point 2 years ago, he didn't shed at the food source but when I got a picture in mid-February of him shed out, I immediately headed out to search for the sheds. Found them about 50 yards away on a trail leading to the food. I wouldn't recommend hay; I've heard that can do more harm than good. I have just corn out now, 25 lbs. at a time spread out, alfalfa is too expensive if you don't grow it.
Grass hay?
 

newfarmer

Active Member
The biggest thing I have seen- if it's been a hard winter and you just throw a pile out, they overeat, and it flips their stomachs, and they die. My brother-in-law many years ago put out corn after it had been a hard winter, had a huge kill off for that exact reason. Deer are used to getting an ear or two max (quantity wise) so a pile where they can eat until full usually does more harm than good. Just from what I have seen.
 

Windwalker

Life Member
Clear off a area and scatter the corn over a larger area make them kinda work for it saves fights and everyone get some. Helps in a bad winter. Get ready for tree rats and raccoon pics.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Alfalfa is great! They eating stuff I baled. It was super leafy & for whatever reason- they will eat the fresh bales I put out even if I put it in an “alfalfa field”. Must be how the bales capture & keep all that leaf matter there.

Next thing I do every year…. Cut junk trees. Like if u have a hickory stand…. Hickories generally grow up at 10x the stand that’s needed. Well- go cut 90% of the junk stems & leave the best. Or elm or ash or whatever. Basically- doing TSI now & getting fresh buds on ground- that woody browse is ideal winter nutrition!!! I cut a bunch last week. Went back today and they devouring the buds & tracks all over. Tsi kills about “10 birds with 1 stone”!!!!
 

JNRBRONC

Moderator
I never lost much hay off of big round bales left next to the field, weird.

Checked cameras on Saturday and when I walked in at noon, there were 8 deer browsing the hay field; alfalfa, clover and brome/orchard grass mix.

I don’t feed, let them pick up waste grain.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
I have to spread my bales Out. With tractor bucket. I do it as a tiny bonus to the deer. Premium woody browse, mast crops, clovers, hay, cover crops, standing crops or waste grain & the millions of nutritious natural browse or legumes, forbs, etc - all this is by far the best nutrition a deer can get. Huge diversity in abundance…. It’s rare to find but what we want if we want ideal nutrition & deer health.

There’s a lot of farms that are nutrition deserts after the grain is cleaned up. Or grazed wooded pastures, etc. Yikes!!!
 

Muskrat24

Well-Known Member
I never lost much hay off of big round bales left next to the field, weird.

Checked cameras on Saturday and when I walked in at noon, there were 8 deer browsing the hay field; alfalfa, clover and brome/orchard grass mix.

I don’t feed, let them pick up waste grain.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
When I was working in the central part of Iowa back when deer numbers were HIGH and in a premo deer county we had a fairly cold and snowy winter, not insane deep but snow cover for extended period of time. Deer ate a noticeable amount of hay from big round bales stashed along fields. Even noticeable browse on cedar trees. Also from my experience a square bale of alfalfa might last a couple weeks in decent deer density so unlikely you would notice that much missing from even a few big bales in a normal winter.
 
I never lost much hay off of big round bales left next to the field, weird.

Checked cameras on Saturday and when I walked in at noon, there were 8 deer browsing the hay field; alfalfa, clover and brome/orchard grass mix.

I don’t feed, let them pick up waste grain.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
When we used to have more alfalfa in our fields, the deer would dig through the snow to get to it like corn and beans.
 
Clear off a area and scatter the corn over a larger area make them kinda work for it saves fights and everyone get some. Helps in a bad winter. Get ready for tree rats and raccoon pics.
Agree, over a larger area and they have to search for it. Possibly helps with them not eating it all at once. Works pretty well in a taller stand of grass. I don't usually put out much grain unless I have extra on hand. Sometimes a little over/around the hay just to entice the deer a little more.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
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They sure love those alfalfa bales. They nip the leafy parts off & generally leave the stemmy type stuff.
Another thing Ive noticed over the years… they bed on it like crazy!!! Must be warm & dry. We always find sheds on the alfalfa.

I’ll take some pics of next one but I cut about 2 acres of “junk” out of my timber. Came back 3 days later to do one more acre that bordered it…. Looked like a “2 acre corn pile”. So many tracks & pressure it was insane. Ate the buds of trees like crazy. I left & drove by a camera. 20 mins after I left the deer poured in to eat the fresh buds.
 

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