• White-tailed Deer Diets from Pastures in Excellent and Poor Range Condition

      Bryant, F. C.; Taylor, C. A.; Merrill, L. B. (Society for Range Management, 1981-05-01)
      A study was initiated in August, 1975, to examine the forage available to and diet composition of white-tailed deer on pastures of excellent and poor range condition at the Sonora Research Station near Sonora, Texas. Grass and forb standing crop and deer feeding time on these two forage classes were considerably higher on the pasture in excellent range condition than that in poor range condition. Browse standing crop and feeding time was greater from the pasture in poor range condition. The Merrill 4-pasture grazing system appeared to increase the availability and use by deer of grass regrowth. Yearly averages of crude protein and phosphorus were higher in diet samples collected from the pasture in excellent range condition. Digestible energy levels were similar between pastures when averaged over the 1-year period. Digestible energy levels in diets were, however, higher from the excellent condition pasture in every season except winter. In winter, deer fed primarily on the foliage of oak on excellent condition range; but on the pasture in poor range condition, deer used large amounts of foliage and mast from juniper and dead leaves of persimmon in addition to oak foliage. Juniper and persimmon apparently contributed to the higher digestible energy levels observed on the pasture in poor range condition during the winter season. Energy may be a major nutrient limiting deer production on the Edwards Plateau.