To feed or not to feed??? - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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To feed or not to feed???

My hunting club has been embroiled in a serious debate over whether or not we should be feeding deer corn during this cold winter. Several years ago I read an article by the PGC that stated if you feed deer corn over the winter, it will kill them because their stomachs just aren't used to it. I know the PGC doesn't want us feeding deer at all, period. The same article went on to explain that a deer's metabolism during the winter is much different than any other time of year and that we should just let them go. Nature will take care of them. Personally, I don't know what to think. It kind of makes sense to me, but the PGC has lied to us about other things, so why wouldn't they be stretching the truth on this too?? My neighbor puts corn out for them and there's deer all over the place. They'll walk between our houses in the middle of the day with no fear, just to get to that corn. They all look pretty healthy to me.

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 07:58 PM
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Re: To feed or not to feed???

Do some research Susqy. It's not just the PGC who discourages the practice, a lot of biologists and ruminant vets are in agreement over this issue.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 08:06 PM
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Re: To feed or not to feed???

This was just posted in another topic but is very applicable here as well.

Rumen Function and Microbiology
Shane Horrocks M.S.
Wildlife Nutritionist
MaxRax Wildlife Nutrition

Whitetail Deer, like other ruminant animals, have a stomach with four compartments: the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. The rumen is the largest compartment with a volume of approximately 1.85 gallons in a 225lb deer, and it maintains a pH between a 6 and 7.2 depending on feed, age and season. It serves as a storage site for ingested feed that is later regurgitated and re-chewed and as a fermentation vat for the production of volatile fatty acids (primary energy source in ruminants). The micro environment is capable of producing proteins and vitamins (B, and K) and it houses a large, diverse microbial population (beneficial bacteria, protozoa and fungi). The rumen is comprised of a muscle layer that contracts and relaxes to assist the mixing of ingested feed, which allows microorganisms to attach to and utilize swallowed feed particles. The muscle layer also assists with regurgitation of feed for further mastication and passage of feed material out of the rumen and eventually into the intestines. The inner wall of the rumen is made up of specialized epithelial tissue responsible for absorbing volatile fatty acids produced in the rumen and nitrogen from plants. Volatile fatty acids are eventually used as energy and the nitrogen is eventually recycled to the rumen via the saliva to be assimilated into more rumen microorganisms and protein for the deer to use. Consistency of rumen function is critical to overall animal health. Indicators like pH level, microbial density, and nutrient quality and quantity must be optimal to achieve desired animal performance.

Factors like diet, stress level, and a healthy rumen microbial population contribute to the efficiency of the rumen and its ability to produce nutrients for the deer. Microorganisms are needed to produce energy, proteins and vitamins essential for proper tissue growth, reproduction, and lactation. When a deer consumes hay or grain, the beneficial microorganisms in the rumen will ferment the fibrous (cellulose and hemicellulose) portions of the grain and produce energy products called volatile fatty acids. Volatile fatty acids are made into sugars, like glucose, which are then used to sustain the deer’s energy needs. Microorganisms can also utilize non protein nitrogen from the grains or hay to reproduce and make microbial proteins, which are critical components of rumen microorganisms. Microorganisms that are passed out of the rumen and into the deer’s intestine are digested and the protein from the cells are absorbed just like protein from soybeans or alfalfa. The deer can then use the microbial protein to meet some of their daily protein requirements. For this reason, ruminant feeds are specifically developed and balanced to maintain optimal amounts of protein, non protein nitrogen, and carbohydrates that can be used for efficient production and turnover of rumen microorganisms.

High quality, well balanced feeds can improve rumen health by promoting a diverse microbial population capable of utilizing carbohydrates, proteins, and fatty acids, and can decrease potential rumen problems. For example, as carbohydrates (fibrous and non-fibrous) and proteins are utilized by the microorganisms in the rumen, gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, will be produced. A healthy functioning rumen is capable of expelling these gases; However, unbalanced diets, like high grain or high legume diets, or the use of drugs can impact the rumen’s ability to function correctly and inhibit the deer’s ability to release the gases. Grain overload in ruminant diets can alter the rumen microbial population many ways. Some grains utilized by rumen microorganisms will produce lactic acid. If a ruminant consumes too much of a particular grain, like corn, a high amount of lactic acid will be produced causing a drop in rumen pH. An acidic rumen environment can kill microorganisms, like fiber degrading organisms, because they are unable to survive under highly acidic conditions. Consequently, cell death can create an imbalance in the microbial population and lead to lactic acidosis. Acidosis can destroy the epithelial tissue responsible for absorbing nutrients through the rumen wall and into the blood stream. Other problems that can occur with an unbalanced microbial population are bloat (acute or chronic) and reduction or elimination of B vitamin synthesis (which can cause blindness) within the rumen. These potential health threats can all be avoided by feeding a sound and balanced daily feed. A good quality feed has safe concentrations of soluble carbohydrates (starch), adequate levels of fiber, and is well balanced to provide accurate levels of ingredients to not only the animal consuming it, but also the microbial population living in the rumen
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 09:07 PM
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Re: To feed or not to feed???

These a couple additional articles that do a pretty good job of explaining the potential problems for deer and other ruminants associated with feeding programs.

http://www.ckwri.tamuk.edu/fileadmin/use...good_thing_.pdf

www.portal.state.pa.us/.../document/1211544/rumen_acidosis_pdf

Dick Bodenhorn
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 09:21 PM
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Re: To feed or not to feed???

Susqyman - thank you for getting the necessary information to make an informed decision.
Does your club own/control land that you can impact the habitat?
Also, where is your club? what is the surrounding habitat?

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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Re: To feed or not to feed???

Yes, we control the land and do have the authority to impact the habitat. We have developed several food plots but some of the members, including myself, like to have our own personal feeders in which we have trail cameras set up. We are located in the middle of farming and woodlots in southeastern pa.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 08:30 PM
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Re: To feed or not to feed???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Susqyman
My hunting club has been embroiled in a serious debate over whether or not we should be feeding deer corn during this cold winter. Several years ago I read an article by the PGC that stated if you feed deer corn over the winter, it will kill them because their stomachs just aren't used to it. I know the PGC doesn't want us feeding deer at all, period. The same article went on to explain that a deer's metabolism during the winter is much different than any other time of year and that we should just let them go. Nature will take care of them. Personally, I don't know what to think. It kind of makes sense to me, but the PGC has lied to us about other things, so why wouldn't they be stretching the truth on this too?? My neighbor puts corn out for them and there's deer all over the place. They'll walk between our houses in the middle of the day with no fear, just to get to that corn. They all look pretty healthy to me.

Comments?????
You have food plots and if you shoot off some doe your ok. If you don't shoot enough doe and now everything is frozen over your going to have deer looking for that free meal. There is other things besides corn.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 10:09 PM
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Re: To feed or not to feed???

Will deer eat hay?
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 10:25 PM
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Re: To feed or not to feed???

Quote:
Originally Posted by 59Willys
Will deer eat hay?
i have a small orchard near my barn, and theres always deer in it. a couple years ago, we were having a cold spell with deep snow, so i took some alfalfa out to the orchard & stuck it in a couple low crotches in those apple trees. the deer ignored it, so i tried some timothy/orchardgrass mix, same result.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 10:55 PM
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Re: To feed or not to feed???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Susqyman
Yes, we control the land and do have the authority to impact the habitat. We have developed several food plots but some of the members, including myself, like to have our own personal feeders in which we have trail cameras set up. We are located in the middle of farming and woodlots in southeastern pa.
Overall it would seem to me that your deer certainly don't need the corn so that can't be the reason for feeding them. It wouldn't be worth the risk of spreading disease, concentrating the deer for easy access by predators, or the destruction of the habitat in the area they are fed due to un natural concentration while they wait ot be fed. As a landowner I find my most productive way to spend time and money during the winter is to run my chainsaw. I cut low value tree species which has several short and long term benefits for the habitat and the deer can take advantage of the fresh browse at ground level.

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