Influences of winter supplemental feeding on the energy balance of white-tailed deer fawns in New Hampshire, USA

Academic Article


  • The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of supplemental feeding on the energy balance of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in northern New Hampshire, U.S.A., during January–March 1997. We measured the field metabolic rate (FMR) and energy balance of 10 (5 males and 5 females) supplementally fed wild fawns with doubly labeled water over 19–21 days. We tested whether percent acid detergent fiber (ADF) and percent neutral detergent fiber in deer fecal samples predicted the proportion of supplemental feed (pelleted concentrate) in the diet of deer. The mean FMR of fawns was 758.4 kJ·kg–0.75·d–1 (range = 535.9–1032.8 kJ·kg–0.75·d–1), or 2 × their basal metabolic rate (BMR). The mean FMR of male fawns was >30% higher than that of female fawns. Percent body fat (12.1 ± 1.4% (mean ± SE)) and mass loss (3.0 ± 0.9%) varied among fawns, suggesting that an individual high FMR was not detrimental to energy balance and was related to availability of feed. We estimated that a high FMR (>2 × BMR) could be maintained only if fawns consumed about 1 kg of supplemental feed daily. Radiotelemetry data indicated that the number and juxtaposition of feeding sites in an area probably influenced home range and activity of deer. Percent ADF in feces provided the best prediction of percent grain in the diet (% grain = –0.048(% ADF)2 + 1.523(% ADF) + 96.467; r2 = 0.69) and was useful for identifying populations consuming supplemental pelleted concentrate. Biologists should expect that the influence of winter feeding on energy balance and survival will vary according to the interrelationships of deer density, food availability, and winter severity at feeding sites.
  • Authors

  • Tarr, MD
  • Pekins, Peter
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • January 2002
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In


  • Nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 6
  • End Page

  • 15
  • Volume

  • 80
  • Issue

  • 1