Little is known regarding the influence of sex- and age-specific factors on mineral lick use by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). We recorded 1020 visits to mineral licks by deer between April and September, of which we could classify 922 by sex and age (yearling or adult). We observed a relationship between the frequency of mineral lick visitation and both sex and age of users. No relationship was found between visitation frequency and time interval of use. Adult females used licks more frequently than other sex/age classes. Visitation frequencies were similar for adult males and yearling males and females. We detected no relationship between lick sodium (Na) content and sex or age of visitors. Greater lick use by adult females may have reflected an increased need for Na associated with gestation and lactation. The majority of male visitors were yearlings, which require Na for antler production and rapid somatic growth. In areas where Na concentration in forage is below dietary requirements and Na-conserving mechanisms are compromised and/or additional production demands occur, available mineral licks may ameliorate the potential negative impact of limited Na on pregnancy/lactation.
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Vol. 148 • No. 2