From Dean: Many people are putting out salt blocks, or in some cases water softener salt, for deer (for bucks growing antlers and does getting ready to lactate). I've always been taught that too much sodium can harm the digestive process of deer and at the very least can cause them to drink so much water that it can replace nutrients. Any way you can hit up one of your biologist colleagues to get a straight answer?
Dr. Grant Woods is a friend who produces a fantastic web video series on managing whitetails at growingdeer.tv. He responds:
I never worry about deer consuming too much salt. Most critters, including deer, need a lot of salt for their bodies to function properly. I’m not aware of any cases of free-ranging deer consuming too much salt. That would be hard to monitor, but with all the salt available from cattle licks, gas and oil drilling, etc., there are gads of salt available in many areas, yet no reports of deer suffering from ingesting too much of it.
I am concerned about some sources of salt that folks make available to deer. Salt marketed for different purposes often has additives to make it flow better, bleached to make it a certain color, etc. It is certainly possible that these additives could be detrimental to deer and other wildlife. Therefore, I only use feed-grade salt. I personally use Trophy Rock, which has 60+ trace minerals.
Deer only need small quantities of trace minerals to express their full fawn and antler growth potential, but without some minerals included in their diet, they simply can’t express their full genetic potential. When supplying salt to deer, use a product that is food grade quality and has as many different trace minerals as practical. Growing Deer together, Grant
Great info. Any of you put out salt/minerals? comment