Native Warm Season Grasses as Forage?

By GrowingDeer,

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Hello Grant,

Are there any native grasses that deer forage upon?  I have been planting eastern gamma grass from remnant stands in northern Missouri and noticed some light browsing on them.  Is this possibly deer or do they not really browse any of the native grasses?  If they do browse some of them I would like to know so I can add that particular species to my prairie restoration project.



If I wanted to provide forage for my deer herd I would concentrate my resources on well fertilized forage crops.  Although a few warm season grasses can provide some forage value, forage crops will do it in a much more efficient way.  Deer simply don’t consume much grass.  Certainly legumes can be incorporated into the warm season grass mix.  Legumes, with the help of rhizobium, fix nitrogen and are great sources of protein.  Plants like partridge pea or Illinois bundle flower are examples of native legumes.  However, this technique will not provide near the tonnage per acre as a crop managed for forage, and it will cost much more per pound produced.

I’m a huge native forage fan, but managed forage crops will certainly produce more tonnage of higher quality food per acre.  I tend to manage cover for cover and food for food to maximize the quality of both.

Growing Deer together,