Seasonal Changes In Nutritive Value Of Deer Food Plants In South Texas

Twenty-six native forage species were collected during each season of the year on the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area in the central portion of the Texas Rio Grande Plam and analyzed for percentage content of crude protein (CP), phosphorus (P) and in vitro dry matter digestibility (DMD). Average values for all species during spring. summer. fall and winter were: CP 18.4, 15.4, 16.6 and 17.1; P 0.23, 0.18, 0.19 and 0.19 DMD 61.7, 56.2. 53.3 and 61.1. Average CP of shrubs and forbs was 14 or greater during all seasons of the year, grasses varied from 12.5 in summer to 14.4 in winter, and Opuntia lindheimeri ranged from a low of 5.4 in winter to 13.3 in spring. P content varied from a low of 0.08 in O. lindheimeri during summer to a high of 0.33 for forbs in winter. Forbs were higher than other plant classes in P during all seasons of the year. O. lindheimeri had the highest DMD (> 86.8) of all plants tested. Forbs had higher DMD values during all seasons of the year than shrubs and grasses. These data demonstrate the importance of having a diversity of vegetation on native rangeland to insure adequate nutrient levels for deer during all seasons of the year.

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