Common Questions About Wildlife Food Patches

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A common question from hunters, farmers and landowners is what should I plant? Before answering this question, it is best to assess what is already present on your land. You could destroy pristine native wildlife habitat and replace it with something that offers less nutritional value, little cover, or is less productive, not to mention the added expense of maintaining a cultivated food patch.

We recommend that you check your habitat first before taking action. Conduct an assessment of the current habitat and how well it matches the habitat needs of the wildlife species you wish to manage. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has information, publications, and private land biologists who can help develop species-specific management plans. Call 800-364-4263 or visit http://www.agfc.com.

Another common question is when are food patches most beneficial to wildlife? Generally, the critical feeding period for many non-migratory wildlife species is late summer and late winter/early spring. White-tailed deer eat the most in late summer and early fall and are nutritionally stressed in late spring. In late summer, the males grow antlers and lay down fat in preparation for the rut. Females nurse (meaning they produce milk) or wean their fawns, and their fawns switch from a milk diet to solid food. Does try to suckle fawns in late summer when food is difficult to digest. The doe needs a good source of food in September and October to rebuild her body.

For many wildlife species, late winter/early spring is a critical period after depletion of winter fat stores and scarcity of food resources, just before spring greening. For deer, additional energy is needed for lactating females giving birth to young and for males growing new antlers. Some wildlife professionals may encourage food patches in winter; however, a Texas study indicated that deer reduce their consumption in winter even when food is readily available. Although deep snow can be a problem in northern states, deer deaths due to winter conditions are rare in Arkansas. Probably the main benefit of fall deer food patches is to attract deer into the open for an adequate deer harvest.

For more information on Food Plot for Wildlife, download FSA 9092 from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture website or contact Jimmy Driggers at 501-623-6841 or by email at [email protected]

4-H Information

There are several 4-H clubs for Garland County youth ages 5-19. For more information on all the fun 4-H activities available, call Carol Ann McAfee at the extension office, 501-623-6841, or email [email protected]

Master Gardener Information

Master Gardeners meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at the Elks Lodge. They are open to the public and guests are welcome. For more information, call Luke Duffle at 623-6841 or email him at [email protected]

EHC Information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers club? EHC is the state’s largest voluntary organization. For more information about EHC, call Alison Crane at 501-623-6841 or email [email protected]

Jimmy Driggers – Submitted Photo
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