Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Feeding the Deer -- not as good an idea as you'd think

The big hay bales are in the field now. Which means horses by day, deer by night.  While the horses do tear the bales apart, we actually experience very little wastage because of the snow - it doesn't get tramped into mud, and the deer are very good at cleaning up the 'bits'.

A word about winter feeding of the deer... as a general rule, it's not a good thing for the deer.Which sounds odd.
But deer are designed to gear down in their metabolism over the winter, so they can subsist on buds and twigs and nibble up the cedar trees.  Unlike summer when life is a buffet and their metabolism "runs hot", in winter they need about 1/4 of the food they need in the plentiful season.

So... if you load them up with corn and alfalfa, and other high protein foodstuff, their metabolism wakes up, says "hooray!" and goes back into high gear. Which means that they need to be munching about four times as much as their wilding cousins.  Horses that are fed on high protein diets also 'run hot' -- with their core temperature averaging one degree Celsius higher than those on grass hay. It is one reason horses competing during hot weather endurance style competitions are very rarely loaded on high protein diets. 

This hay is pure grass hay, quite low in protein, so it doesn't 'rev up' our Bambi's system.  It is also a pretty much guaranteed supply -- as long as the horses need to eat -- which is pretty much all the time -- there is hay out in the paddocks.  It makes it hard to prevent freeloading. We do not feed corn to the deer.  We do not feed alfalfa to the deer.  We do feel that feeding them occasional apples and carrots, because the quantities are so low, will do them no harm at all, nor will the occasional raid on the sunflowers in the bird feeders -- again it is about quantity.  A rapid change in diet can cause all sorts of issues for horses -- and for deer, so folks coming to the cottage for a weekend and putting out big heaps of corn are not doing the deer any favours.  Our deer enjoy following the packed ski trails through the woods as well -- it lets them move about more easily to find the natural food they should be eating.

There are winters, and times, when feeding may well be indicated. Usually this is in late winter, when the snowmelt is causing the browse line to get higher, and the smaller deer can no longer reach it.  But usually the Ministry of Natural Resources will let you know if feeding is indicated. And once you start feeding, you really cannot withdraw from that without consequences. We have an active wolf pack in the area, that rely on the deer herd as their primary source of protein. They help keep the numbers such that the deer do not congregate in numbers that destroy the very bush they need to live in.


  1. We buy the MNR-recipe food. It makes hubby happy!
    What about the people that seed their hunting camps and tree stands, Nancy? This bothers me no end. This is what our neighbour does. He doesn't live there but has 35 acres of bush where he lets people hunt.

  2. I do remember deer coming to my parents' place and having their fill of birdseed that fell down from the feeders into the flower boxes below.