• American jointvetch improves summer range for white-tailed deer

      Keegan, T. W.; Johnson, M. K.; Nelson, B. D. (Society for Range Management, 1989-03-01)
      Livestock production is limited on upland forested sites in the Southeast by the low quality of native range. Supplemental feeding in the form of improved pastures has dramatic effects on herd production and individual animal performance. Similar relationships probably exist for wild herbivores; and food plots with highly palatable, high quality forages might improve animal performance for wild as well as domestic herbivores. Sixteen American jointvetch (Aeschynomene americana) plots (mean +/- SE = 0.21 +/- 0.02 ha) were established in pastures adjacent to mixed pine (Pinus spp.)-hardwood habitat on a 980-ha tract in southeast Louisiana to estimate the influence of summer-fall food plots on diets of free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). American jointvetch accounted for 32.4% of the dry matter in deer diets and occurred in 90.7% of fecal pellet groups. Individual deer consumed about 0.45 kg (ovendry weight) of American jointvetch per day over 2 growing seasons. For all sampling periods, crude protein, phosphorus, in vitro digestible dry matter, and calcium levels were higher (P less than or equal to 0.006) in supplemented diets compared to native diets. Calcium:phosphorus ratios in supplemented diets were lower (P less than or equal to 0.0001) (improved) compared to ratios in native diets. Dietary crude protein, phosphorus, in vitro digestible dry matter, and calcium were positively associated (P less than or equal to 0.0001) with proportions of American jointvetch in deer diets. Warm-season food plots should be considered as viable options for intensive deer management programs in parts of the southeastern United States.