Supplemental Feeding

Supplemental Feeding By: Cody Weiser

The supplemental feeding of wildlife is practiced more than ever by a wide range of people who love the outdoors and the animals it contains. Whether it is done by automatic casting feeders, trough feeding, or developing food plots, this practice has an extremely positive effect on all wildlife involved. Supplemental feeding increases body weight, life span, growth rate, and also helps insure healthy and successful reproduction. In addition, it allows an area to support a larger consumer population. The great thing about an alternative food source is that it benefits the entire area of wildlife in one way or the other.

Boar hunters who are interested in beginning a supplemental year round feeding program need to take a few key factors into consideration. Wild hogs are more of a browser than a grazer. This makes a difference when deciding what to plant when planning a food plot that is geared toward supplementing a wild boar population. Protein should be number one on the list when deciding what will best benefit wild boar growth and development. Soybeans, peas, corn, and even milo are excellent choices for wild boar food plots. These plants, if allowed to mature, are great protein sources for hogs along with a wide variety of other wildlife.

Another prime, high protein food source for wild hogs is peanuts. Although a little more costly and harder to plant, peanuts are packed with both high levels of protein and fat. Peanuts are also protected under the ground from other animals, but are easily uncovered by hogs' powerful "built-in" plows.

Food plots can be any size you wish and can be created and maintained with any ATV equipped with some easy to find farm accessories. Your local county extension agent can guide you step-by-step in planning a food plot that is both economical and suited for your specific soil and climate conditions.

While some choose to plant a food source, others may find it easier to just feed grain or other protein supplements straight from the bag. This can be done year round, but is extremely beneficial when natural food sources are at seasonal lows. Corn is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of grain feeding boars. Every year wild hogs eat thousands of pounds of corn fed by hunters. Corn is both economical and nutritious with a protein percentage in the 8% range. Corn is by far the most popular choice for boar supplemental feeding, but there are many other feeds that can offer a higher level of nutrients and protein.

Grains such as peas or soy beans can be trough or cast fed to increase protein intake. There are also commercial pellet feeds that can be considered when developing a supplemental feeding program. A cheap dry dog food is an excellent choice to add an extra bit of fat and protein to your herd’s diet. These other choices usually cost more, but can easily be mixed with cost efficient grains to boost protein intake without breaking your wallet. When used with a timed, spin type feeder the output of these feeders can be regulated and stretched out over a long period of time. Low built troughs can also be surrounded by livestock panels to only allow small hogs, that fit through the squares, the ability to eat. This insures that the younger hogs in the herd are getting proper nutrition at critical times.

Finally, there is the long term management practice of planting or transplanting trees that will produce mast that will benefit hogs in the future. Trees such as pecans, oak, almond, and walnut will all add incredibly to the protein intake of any wild boar sounder. Fruit trees such as apple, pear, peach, persimmon, or plum will also provide hogs with many pounds of food throughout the years to come. They will also act as an attractant for wild game as the smell of their ripening fruits are carried away by the breeze. Planting trees may take many years to see results that greatly benefit your boars, but measures taken today will benefit the trophy boars of tomorrow.

If you want to manage and grow large health boar sounders that are capable of producing multiple trophy specimens, then supplemental feeding is a basic building block that you must not overlook. Supplemental feeding will not only benefit your hogs, but will also have a positive effect on all wildlife in the area. Adding an extra food source to your boars’ diet will increase both body weight and herd size, and will improve overall trophy quality.