When the weather takes a turn for the worse, wild animals like birds and deer have trouble maintaining adequate nutrition. During the colder months, these animals have to eat nutrient-rich foods more frequently to maintain their health and their body temperature.
Deer can get the protein-rich foods they need in the winter from food plots – wheat, corn, soybeans and oats are great sources of protein. However, they need a variety of nutrients to keep their digestive systems functioning in colder climates, so you will need to offer a variety of products, not just grains. For example, a bale of alfalfa hay is recommended as a source of crude fiber, and when paired with a source of a protein, like corn, it helps create a balanced diet. Planting winter wheat or other green winter plants is also essential in helping them winterize their digestive systems.
If you don’t have food plots, you can simply scatter the food in your backyard. Most feeds, minerals, and other wildlife supplements can be found at your local agricultural supply store, or even at a farm close to your home.
The winter months are an excellent time to provide your local wildlife with extra mineral supplements as well. Minerals are especially important to deer because female deer are often pregnant during the winter. If a female deer lacks proper nutrition, it will abort the fawn in order to stay alive. Mineral supplements can be found in block, liquid, or granular form.
A high-quality, protein-rich birdseed is recommended for feeding wild birds. Make sure you find a type of seed that multiple types of birds will enjoy, and that will be accessible to them in the type of bird feeder you have. Black-oil sunflower seeds, peanuts and cracked corn are all good, inexpensive options for most types of bird feeders.
It’s important that you also supply the animals with fresh water, and to keep the water from freezing when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. Look for an inexpensive submersible water heater at your local agricultural supply store or hardware store to keep your water source from freezing over.
Take the time this winter to put some food outdoors and enjoy the beautiful wildlife that Mother Nature has to offer!