All species of antlered deer are poly-seasonal animals that experience hormonal changes dictated by fluctuations in daylight hours. These hormones are naturally produced anabolic steroids in the form of IGF-1 growth factor serums, which in a deer’s system, regulate antler tissue development. All deer go through a seasonal transformation of growth patterns throughout the spring and summer months. During this time, the IGF-1 serum provides the workforce for antler tissue development.
During the fall and winter months, deer store IGF-1 in their fat tissue. Therefore, captive bred deer should be provided dietary platforms consisting of superior sources of protein and elevated fat levels to duplicate their natural diet. Practicing these strict nutritional guidelines, the loss of muscle tissue from post rut syndrome will be alleviated, bucks’ body mass will stabilize. This allows the growth serums to focus on antler tissue development instead of muscle tissue replenishment.
Corn, rice bran and cotton seed alone are not complete deer feeds. When fed alone they lead to gut wall erosion from acidosis, reducing absorption of essential minerals and nutrients. Therefor seasonal feeds should be formulated for captive bred and free ranging deer.
By practicing strict nutritional guidelines, promotion of whole heard health is accomplished, as healthy animals are less likely to contract infectious diseases.
- Dr. Dennis Gorley DVM, PhD