White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are aesthetically and economically important to landowners in Texas. Deer herd health, productivity and survivability decline when population size exceeds the available forage. During stressful times, such as dry winter periods, nutrition is limited and forage availability decreases drastically. White-tailed deer winter diets are mainly comprised of browse species because herbaceous production decreases as winter progresses. The objective of this study was to determine the influence of winter progression on nitrogen (N) and fiber concentration as well in-vitro organic matter disappearance (IVOMD) (using white-tailed deer rumen liquid) of six browse species of moderate to high forage importance. Woody plant samples were collected during pre-frost, mid-winter, and late winter from four (replications) properties in the Cross Timbers of Texas, USA over 2 years. There was a difference between years (P ≤ 0.05). There was an interaction (P ≤ 0.05) between species and season for all forage values. Nitrogen, a desirable nutrient, decreased as winter progressed, IVOMD decreased as fiber increased with winter progression in five of the six browse species. The only exception was evergreen live oak (Quercus virginiana Mill.) which kept its leaves throughout winter and maintained an average 1.33% N with lowest fiber levels and highest IVOMD in late winter. Results confirm that nutritional value of browse, especially N and fiber, decreases after the first freeze when most browse species shed leaves. It also supports the need for plant biodiversity in white-tailed habitat that supports adequate year-round white-tailed deer nutrition.
|Advisor:||Muir, James P., Harp, Randy M.|
|Commitee:||Kinman, Lea A., Miller, Mike S.|
|School:||Tarleton State University|
|Department:||Animal Science & Wildlife Management|
|School Location:||United States -- Texas|
|Source:||MAI 55/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Wildlife Management, Range management|
|Keywords:||Autumn and winter, Browse, Cross timbers and prairies, Nutritive value, Odocoileus virginianus, Texas, White-tailed deer|
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