[1. How big is your ranch?] Just over 1434 acres on the main ranch and just under 500 on our other one.
[2. How much does it cost you/year to feed?] We feed out of 5 protien feeders on the main ranch (2 on the other one) that we locate in the middle of each pasture. You don't want to feed the neighbor's deer. Make them come to the center of your ranch for the food so that they will get used to staying on your ranch. Each protien feeder holds 300 pounds and lasts for 7 days during regular feedings. During January (if it gets ice on the ground) and in from March until the 1st of April, each feeder will typicaly only last 5 days. We spend (on average)just over $2400 per year on the protien. We feed protien from the first of January through August. Then corn from August through December. I keep my protien feeder at my stand full all year round. Costs me a whole lot more that way, but I have a ton of bucks using my pasture during hunting season. We have wheat fields that help supplement the deer during September through February or so.
[3. How did you get the deer to start eating the protein?] We put it out in open troughs for two weeks. Only problem with that is 300 pounds will only last 2 days! Then we put it in those feeders that I posted the picture out of. It controls the amount each deer eats. They get what they need, but not any more than they have the patience to stand there and lick out.
[What brand of feed do you use?] We use ACCO's Purina brand mix of 20% protien pellets. They seem to like it better than the other brands we tried.
[4. Have you ever tried whole cottonseed? I read something about it on the TTH forum.] We have tried the cottonseed and also the peanut hulls. They loved the peanut hulls better than anything. So did the raccoons! We found that the peanut hulls and cottonsead only helped them maintain body weight, but didn't do anything for horn developement.
[5. How long before you saw any results?] We noticed forked brow tines and stickers around the bases in 2 years. The third year saw numerous bucks with split G2's and kickers. The fourth year showed us split and thicker brow tines, kickers on their G2's, thicker mass and a lot more stickers around the bases. The body weights went up over 25 pounds the second year. They were up around 10 pounds the first year. Our average bucks before protien were weighing 105 and a good mature buck was weighing 125 to 130. The third year saw us harvesting bucks that were in excess of 150 to 160 pounds. Our mature does were field dressing right at 100 poundst the third year.
[6. What months of year do you feed the protein?] January through August. If we have a good wet year and good browse, we will suspend the protien in July. Depends on whether the grass is burnt up from drought or heat.
[Sorry to be so long winded..............]
No problem at all.... We had a biologist work with us to determine just how much feed we needed to feed in order to properly do it. You can feed the protien and improve the herd. But, if you don't do it right, you will only improve a certain number of the herd and the overall progress will be much slower.
My brother-in-law's ranch is around 4000 acres and they have 10 feeders on it that they keep full year round. But, they guide on it and charge enough for one buck to pay for their protien feed.