Comment: We have heard a lot about using cottonseed as a white-tailed deer supplement here is South Texas and had been thinking about doing it ourselves. In fact, we just put out the first load of cotton seed about 2 weeks ago, just over 6,000 pounds, for supplementation as part of our deer management program. We hope it helps our whitetail hunting and really look forward to monitoring consumption of the cottonseed, as well as seeing how the bucks stack up this coming year. I am going to try to be as unbiased as possible on how it turns out.
So far, the deer on the ranch have been receptive to the whole cottonseed. We have placed it in cottonseed feeders at 12 locations on the property. It is easy to feed compared to protein because we do not have to use feeders. Each cottonseed cage holds about 400 to 500 pounds of seed. Some of the seed is right next to feeders while some is located where we intend to place feeders in the future. Some are fenced in while others are out in the open.
To date we have not seen any feral hogs eating the cottonseed. The cotton gin said hogs would eat it though, but others have told me different. I guess we will see. The bobwhite quail seem to like it though. Those little rascals will sit on the feed and not leave!
As for whitetail deer use of the cottonseed, some feeders are being hit very hard while others have not been touched at all. To start them feeding on the cottonseed, we added corn to about 5 cages and they have been hit the hardest. In fact, deer continue to hammer these sites even after all the corn is gone. Currently, it seems the deer prefer feeding on cottonseed over the protein pellets. Of course, the protein feeders are timed feeders on our property.
Feeding cottonseed to deer seems to be working, but the major concerns I have are about the feed getting wet. I worry about mildew and mold as well as waste since the deer seem to spread the feed out on the ground. As things move forward I will let you know if we see a difference in the horns on our bucks this coming year of whitetail hunting. I have been a little nervous about trying cottonseed, but so far so good.
Response: It sounds like you are taking a fair look at cottonseed, and I don’t think you will be disappointed. I know that cotonseed will put weight back on deer during late winter, so your bucks and does will be in oustanding shape for spring. Let’s just hope it rains a little, too!
Cottonseed is good, but it’s not a wonder food for deer. I would be hesitant to recommend that a ranch feed only cottonseed as a supplement because it does lack some of the micro- and macronutrients that deer require. However, you are also feeding protein so I don’t think you should have anything to worry about.
Deer also get nutrients from their habitat when they consume browse, forbs and mast, so although cottonseed could be feed stand-alone, I feel better about it since you are feeding both cottonseed and protein. I think it will keep your body weights high and your deer healthy, meaning not only better whitetail hunting for bucks, but better fawn production and recruitment.