For those who didnt see my first post. Mid winter this year had already seen as much snow and ice as we get in a normal total season so spurred on by my neighbours I decided to feed the deer and asked for the forum's opinion on doing. A few of you asked for an update so here it is.
I decided to use rumavite blocks as they are easily carried to the quiet areas I had selected to do the feeding in and they are designed to support the deers natural stomach flora so making best use of what they can forage naturally. I quickly decided to string them from trees as when laid on the ground the badgers licked them then shat all over them repelling the deer. I would bore a hole in the centre with a drill and feed a string through then hang them from branches about three feet off the ground.
The deer quickly began to use them and at first a block would last about a week. I estimated that I had 8 deer to each block. Then in January we had a meter of snow fell one Friday night which was topped up with a few more flurries. Temperatures dropped to -18 at night never getting above -10 at midday. A crust formed on the snow that would bear your weight and these conditions prevented deer from digging for forage. The result was blocks were gone in three days, more deer gathered at feedpoints and an increasing number of calves were found under trees beside the blocks huddled together dead.
I lost a few Hinds and old Stags too. I even found a mature Sika Stag dead. The Roe were decimated and of other animals the Wren which once filled the woods are now absent completely.
A lot of hinds entered the spring in an emeciated condition and I think a lot must have re-absorbed/aborted this years crop.
However what I am seeing now are Hinds mostly running yeld but all in excellent condition. The Stags are now,after a slow start with the moult, looking really good but there is definitly an absence of the young .
Conclusions- I think I will have to feed for a few years to see what happens and take the point that it will be impossible to say that if I didnt feed things would be different.
It has made it easier to count the dead though and I have to say it surely must have helped sustain the beasts in that very extreme end of season. But again maybe the dry, good and early spring had more to do with the animals susviving to now than anything else. David