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Primos Cabin Chat > Primos® Cabin Chat > Whitetail Deer Hunting
alwayshuntn
Season is almost over here and was wondering if anyone has ever used hay/alfalfa as a suppliment for helping the deer get through the winter. I have access to some alfalfa hay but wanted to make sure that its effective and the deer will eat it. Compared to corn right now, i can get the hay cheaper, but dont want it to be wasted either. Any experience with this? I know when deer are hungry they will eat just about anything, but still I would like to know if there is any experiences with this stuff out there. Thanks
Jeepin Bowhunter
That would be a NO. Deer nat eat it if nothing else is available, but they will not be able to digest ti. I read a study in Canada a while back where deer actually died of starvatiion with a full stomach of alfalfa. I'll try to dig it up yet tonight. It has something to do with the way their stomach enzimes adapt do the change in food.
Bring 'em In
QUOTE(Jeepin Bowhunter @ Jan 16 2009, 06:45 PM) *

That would be a NO. Deer nat eat it if nothing else is available, but they will not be able to digest ti. I read a study in Canada a while back where deer actually died of starvatiion with a full stomach of alfalfa. I'll try to dig it up yet tonight. It has something to do with the way their stomach enzimes adapt do the change in food.



Agreed
Savage Dude
Go down to the creek bank cut bunches of willow brush and move it to where the deer can feed. Deer will most definately eat alfalfa and strave to death in the process. Browse not forage.
alwayshuntn
you know, now that you guys mentioned that, i recall hearing that somewhere. Glad I asked!!! Thanks, looks like its going to be corn then
alwayshuntn
Ok, something doesnt make sense to me. I asked one of my friends today about feeding alfalfa. I know that no-one is an expert, BUT, this man raises whitetails, has a ton of land which has a TON of deer on it in the wild, and he tells me that he feeds it all the time. infact, when it comes to his "raised" whitetails, he says he finds the closest thing to pure alfalfa he can and feeds that. Whats really crazy is that he named off 10 people who do the exact same thing. Not really understanding, i called a couple after I talked to him and they said the same thing. I know that pen raised and wild are a little different in some aspects, but to help the wild deer make it through the winter, he hauls in alfalfa for 2-3 months. And he doesnt seem to have any deer dieing either. I am by no means trying to tell anyone they are wrong, just wanted to share my lastest info and now I am going to do some digging myself. I want some evidence so I can show him, or so i can convince myself. Does anyone know where I can get info on this matter........Thanks
187Elk
You are not supposed to introduce a food to deer that they normally don't have. They need different enzimes in their stomachs to digest their food. Do not feed deer through the winter. It hurts them more than it helps them.

I Saw the same study talk about above, it has to do with deer not feeding on their way to the new food source, they do not get what they need to survive.

They are suppose to forage for food, the mixer gives them the correct ballance of enzimes. If they are not used to it, that is when it is the worst. Here lots of deer eat it, but they eat willows and other grasses on the way to the fields. It can happen if you interduce straight grain and nothing else too. Any foreign food can do it if that is all the deer are feeding on. This is what I remember from the study.

As they said be safe and don't feed the wild animals. It is illegal in Montana anyway!
alwayshuntn
187Elk, See, here in Ohio, you are allow to, and to tell you the truth, Most do. I'm not talking about hunting over a food pile. If I remember right, there was a post here recently with someone talking about how much they hate snow, and it was in Washington, eastern. They talked about deer and what 6 feet of snow can do. Let me ask, what do you think a bale of hay, feeder with corn, or for that matter a bag of apples would do to a deer who cant find anything to eat because its under 6 feet of snow. What I am getting at is I like to manage, and try to manage the deer I hunt. I do that by supplimental feeding, expecially this time of year. There is nothing for them to eat. Me putting out a food plot, a deer feeder with corn or a bale of hay cant be bad. All the things I put out are things they eat all year round, if its available. I just make it available, and in turn, keep the deer on my property for the next season. I dont view it as "feeding wild animals", more like ensuring i have a hunting season for the next year. I was just wondering why some feed alfalfa, some dont, some say it doesnt work, some say its great and so on. Just trying to figure out the "why's"
deerlover
Hey Jeepin....you seem to be a pretty knowledgable companion out here and I like 99% of your posts. I am confused on the alfalfa post. In Montana, that is their main food source, but maybe that is because that is their number 1 summer food. Is it just baled alfalfa you are talking about?

Just curious. We have put bales out before here in IL, but they don't seem to touch them much. Should probably try this down at our river ground since there is zero food down there and put a trail camera on it.

Just trying to understand this more...
GreeneCoDeerKiller
Yeah I know around the milk river deer flock to alfalfa feilds, and in Canada they put out pilles of alfalfa hay for deer to eat. It also is supossed to be a good source of protein also. I don't totally understand this either.
lungbuster12point06
Ask any biologist and he /she will tell you that supplemental feeding will hurt deer......As stated before deer create natural enzymes to help them digest browse in the winter time, eating corn or hay will not digest in thier stomachs..........besides this time of year deer eat mainly browse, browse is usually tree buds, branches, and other forage that grows above the snowline, that's why so many homeowners complain in the winter time about deer eating thier shrubs wink.gif

As for pen raised deer, they have been raised on corn and hay thier entire lives, it is possible that thier bodies have adapted to this .
deerlover
I completely agree with suplemental feeding, but think in some cases a helping or two during an extremely tough time could assist (like 2 inches of ice coating everything).

My question really revolved around the alfalfa itself. Even in the QDM magazines it talked about palatability of alfalfa at different times of the year. Maybe you are saying that alfalfa wont be digested when it hits a certain time of the year. I know I see them feeding in alfalfa fields here in IL before the beans come up, so that is their nutrition when antlers first start to develope.
lungbuster12point06
Well of course deer love clover............but in the winter they cannot digest it, thier metabolism changes through the winter months so that they can digest browse and other natural forage.

In the spring and summer months , clover is an essential protien for building body mass and antler growth............But of course that is not when people feel the need to "help" them with supplemental feeding, it's in the winter months when thier bodies cannot digest it.
shootnoruntys
Here in MN, I work for farmer during the fall, but still talk to him a lot, The deer are always up in his yard eating left over corn from grain bins and other spillage, and eating on his Alfalfa hay bales that he has close to his cattle yard. He grinds alfalfa bales and they are always up in the ground up alfalfa eating on that too. Just my observations that I have seen, and what he tells me.
alwayshuntn
Everything I feed deer is something they can usually get during the harvest season. Corn, hay and so on. I can understand that deer adapt to there enviroment, and so i dont push something on them that they dont get anyways. Deer around here start out in the early fall and late summer or bean fields, corn fields, and alfalfa and so on. So i know that if i start planting persimmon trees and such, maybe that isnt such a good idea. But, they start out feeding on alfalfa and corn to begin with, so i just make it available all season. When the farmers take down the crops, i usually start my feeders up slow, maybe a feeding a day, and only put out a little at a time. And depending on how much action i get, i will increase, or decrease accordingly. Browse is still a big part of there diet. The deer dont come to my feeder, fill up on corn, and then go home. They are always roaming, feeding and such. So I dont think supplimental feeding is bad. I mean, i see everyone doing it, TV shows talk and encourage it and so how can it be bad if properly done.
lungbuster12point06
Just because someone on TV says it's a good thing doesn't make it so.........I would call your local biologist and ask him/her what they think about supplemental feeding and how you are doing it, they will have the correct answer for you.
deerlover
Lungbuster, gotta hand it to you....you are right. I had a friend who saw my post send me some information on it - it makes perfect sense.

I will reiterate what you tried to teach me earlier. Deer do have the enzymes to digest alfalfa, just not in the winter time. The enzymes change during the season and during the winter, when alfalfa is dormant, the deer don't need those bacterial enzymes to digest alfalfa.
swvahunter
Deer like it as a treat......actually love it but that is here in VA. Every area is different. The study talked about earlier was in Canada, possibility that they didn't have the other necessary items in their enviroment to help break that alfalfa down. I personally don't grow it to feed them, I tend to stick to plot mixes. However, I have watched them flock to alfalfa fields in the late summer to feast. This goes back to a previous post about their summer time enzymes compared to winter.

I'm not sure of the real answer to your question and hope I didn't confuse you more. If I had to give you an answer I would try planting a little alfalfa with something else. Then see if they like the alfalfa, they may use it is a main course and they may just use it as a dessert. Check with a biologist and see what they can tell you.
Drop-time
Ill add here Alfalfa is a great food source from spring green up till first hard frost, after that they leave it alone. Clover and Alfalfa are two different plants and Ive seen them work on clover a bit longer into the fall. Our last Alfalfa crop went 8 yrs!
lungbuster12point06
QUOTE(deerlover @ Feb 2 2009, 02:10 PM) *

Lungbuster, gotta hand it to you....you are right. I had a friend who saw my post send me some information on it - it makes perfect sense.

I will reiterate what you tried to teach me earlier. Deer do have the enzymes to digest alfalfa, just not in the winter time. The enzymes change during the season and during the winter, when alfalfa is dormant, the deer don't need those bacterial enzymes to digest alfalfa.


I am occasionally right smile.gif

Yes deer can digest alfalfa most times of the year, just not in the winter when browse is thier main staple.
Dr.Death
those little leaves in the alfalfa r what they like. not the stems and alfalfa draws more deer on my uncles farm than anything else there but if there r no leaves on it then it aint woth a sh.... Buy a 4x4 round bail for 25 bucks it will last laonger
Hardcore
If the deer are stressed and very hungry do not introduce hay bales or alphalfa bales to them. I was told by a DNR specialist that once they are into the middle of winter and have had very little to eat there stomachs get weak and can get punctured by the stalks in the bales. They will not be able to digest them. You need to feed a granulized pellet form of alphalfa at this time. If they have been eating grass and grazing all along then you can give it. You can do more harm than good. Corn and grain may be better. Grazing on live alphalfa and grass is different than chewing the hay stalks. Once you start and get the deer coming they will stay close by and count on you to feed them. If you stop they will still stay there and not have anything to eat. Keep doing it if you start until the winter is over and they aren't coming anymore. Feeding deer can be fun but it can be harmful. If the winter is mild without alot of deep snow they will do alright on there own. wink.gif
deerlover
the best answer to this....plant some food plots (winter wheat...oats...turnips). These are all great late season food plots that last all the way until spring time! Deer love them too!

Forget hay bales...plant food plots! biggrin.gif
PSEaxis
QUOTE(deerlover @ Feb 5 2009, 04:43 PM) *

the best answer to this....plant some food plots (winter wheat...oats...turnips). These are all great late season food plots that last all the way until spring time! Deer love them too!

Forget hay bales...plant food plots! biggrin.gif


Derrick is right. Yes its filling, but hay has very little nutritional value in it. During the winter months alot of times people think that by feeding deer hay, there helping the herd, when in reality there starving them.
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