Two years ago, in response to the extreme weather, I started to feed blocks to the Deer in the forest here in Inverness-shire. I shared the experience in a post and a follow-up the next year. I know that giving any feed source to a wild animal can be controversial and I used to think it wrong when I saw big estates feed tons of silage and cobs each year to the deer. The keepers justified the action by saying that in the past the deer could shelter on lower ground, move into the forests or migrate to kinder Glens but now with the increase in fencing and intolerance of other interests (I am not condemning them) the deer have to live out the winter trapped on ground that is excellent in summer but thin on nutrition and shelter in winter.
The extreme fall of snow two years ago coupled with a months -long, all-day sub-zero temperature led to death on a massive scale. All but one of the calves died,all the Roe and the older good Stags who had battled through the rut hadnt time to fill up before the bad weather and they succumbed too. The forest became devoid of many birds and only now are there any wrens when before they were the commonest species. The hinds either aborted or re-absorbed their calves so the next summer saw a dearth of young with their mothers.
Now the good news...... As was predicted by Cyberstag in his reply ,the hinds that were left flourished the next year. Unencumband by sucking young and helped by an early spring they entered the summer in great condition.This year almost all are running with a calf and I have two sets of twins, both sets good. The Stags came through the rut well but there is a distinct lack of mature beasts. Hind numbers are well down too and you can see the lost generations in the age makeup. No followers and very few yearlings. Has my feeding helped? Well impossible to say for sure but I think it must . The first year I fed cattle blocks but found deer ones the next year. They are designed to provide supplimentary energy and support to the stomach flora so helping the animals to digest the low-quality fibres that they have to eat in the winter. They are not a total feed source. As I said before ,they need strung off the ground to avoid them being buried in snow or fouled by badgers and are very well taken by the deer. Put them up in groups of fours in sheltered areas away from disturbance to allow the different classes of deer a chance to feed (stags tend to dominate them) . If you can see them with binos from a distance you will see how the animals lick them at first then as they get confident try to score slivers off them with their teeth. This year as the disturbance from the construction of the giant pylon line reaches its height I intends to feed away from the constructors to give the deer some peace and will see how it goes.