Providing Supplemental Food
Most properties have plant communities that provide some natural food. For a wildlife tax valuation, a landowner can offer supplemental supplies of food by providing food or nutrition in addition to that naturally produced by the habitat on the land. To meet the wildlife management requirements, grazing management using livestock, prescribed burning and range enhancement can be used to provide supplemental food.
Other than water, food is the most critical aspect of managing for wildlife on any property. Additional ways to provide supplemental food for native wildlife include:
- Food plots for wildlife
- Feed and mineral supplements
- Managing tame pastures, old fields and croplands
Supplemental Food Plots and Plantings
Food plots are one way to establish locally adapted forage to provide supplemental foods and cover during critical periods of the year. Livestock should be generally excluded from small food plots. The shape, size, location and percentage of total land area devoted to food plots should be based on the requirements of the targeted species.
Feeders and mineral supplements also can help dispense additional food to selected wildlife species during critical periods. These are most commonly used for white-tailed deer and songbirds. Feeders should not be used except to control excessive numbers of deer and/or exotic ungulates as defined within a comprehensive wildlife management plan with a targeted harvest quota that is regularly measured. Harmful aflatoxin in feed should not exceed 20 parts per billion.
Mineral supplements also may be supplied to wildlife in several ways, however, this practice must be a part of an overall habitat management plan that addresses all animal groups and considers the habitat’s carrying capacity.
Wildlife Management on Farmland and Ranchland
Managing tame pasture, old fields and croplands can increase plant diversity, provide supplemental food and forage and gradually help convert the land to native vegetation. Recommended practices may include overseeding or the planting cool season and/or warm season legumes and/or small grains in pastures or range lands. Shallow disking that encourages habitat diversity, the production of native grasses and forbs or increases bare ground feeding habitat for selected species is also an accepted practice. For pastureland conversion, legumes should be planted annually until all pastures are shifted to native vegetation.
On farmlands, no-till or minimum-till agricultural practices that leave waste grain and stubble on the soil surface until the next planting season, which provide supplemental food or cover, control erosion and improve soil tilth.