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Deer and Cattle Diets on Heavily Grazed Pine-Bluestem RangeAuthor(s): Ronald E. Thill; Alton Martin
Source: J. Wildl. Manage. 53(3):540-548
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionWe studied dietary overlap between captive white-tailed deer (n = 3) (Odocoileus virginianus) and cattle (n = 4) for 3 years on 2 rotationally burned, 54-ha longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)-bluestem (Andropogon spp.) pastures in central Louisiana. A third of each pasture was burned each year in late February. One pasture was grazed heavily (61-77% herbage use) yearlong; the other was grazed heavily (50-67% use) from mid-April to 1 November. Deer diets were dominated yearlong by a mixture of browse (49.3~83.2%) and forbs (11.2-47.1%). Cattle consumed mostly grasses during spring and summer and 60 and 40% browse and herbage, during fall and winter, respectively. Cattle consumed more herbage on first-year burns. Dietary overlap under heavy yearlong grazing averaged 25.8, 11.8, 26.0, and 30.7% during spring, summer, fall, and winter, respectively. Overlap under heavy seasonal grazing averaged 18.5, 7.4, and 22.6% during spring, summer, and fall, respectively. Diets of both animals were diverse and overlap generally resulted from sharing small amounts of many plant taxa. Except on recent burns during summer, dietary overlap under heavy yearlong grazing was comparable to that observed under moderate yearlong grazing at half the cattle stocking rate. Moderate grazing (40-50% herbage removal) of similar range from late spring through early fall should have little negative impact on deer forage availability. Grazing during late fall and winter reduces an already limited supply of deer forage by reducing availability of evergreen browse and herbaceous winter rosettes.
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CitationThill, Ronald E.; Martin, Alton, Jr. 1989. Deer and Cattle Diets on Heavily Grazed Pine-Bluestem Range. J. Wildl. Manage. 53(3):540-548
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