From what reading and asking ?'s I have done,Ladino clover seems to get the thumbs up.According to my Dad (old farm boy)Ladino is a "sweet" clover.I've gathered alfalfa,alzac and ladino blossoms and the ladino certainly does smell sweeter.
Interestingly,my folks have a pet rabbit that has run of the farm.Several times I've put the 3 different plants in front of him and he goes for the ladino over the other 2.Thats been my "Redneck Research".
As far as planting alfalfa for a plot,in my area there are alot of farm fields already planted in alfalfa so spending the time/money to plant it in a plot would be next to worthless IMO.I can see where it would work on a small plot in the woods or some mountain ground with very little ag. activity around.
alfalfa needs repeated cuttings and should be sprayed for bugs as well. Clover can be mowed twice a year and you don't have any insect issues. I like to plant a blend of ladino, red, new zealand white, and alfalfa or trefoil in my clover plots.
I have the Ladino Clover and Chicory in now for 3 years and it's looking the best it's ever been.
Couple weeks ago I over seeded with more, but also added a mixture of: Ladino, Red, Alsike and White Clover along with some more Chicory.
As for the Alfalfa, I had thought about it too before I went and planted Clover. But, I took the advise from a friend that already has it. He said the deer in his area were really picky on eating it. Then the stalk would get large and tough, then they never touched it.
Changed my mind.
in 1980, 81 and 82, I put in multiple replicates of small plots with red, ladino, white dutch clovers, alfalfa, trefoil and buckwheat. I sprayed, burnt the dead grasses and weeds, deep dragged the area, limed and fertilized.I had tracking plots around each plot. I also put in minature deer exclosures to see what the growth potential was without the deer munching. They ignored the bucwheat, barely touched the trefoil and alfalfa, and heavily hit the clovers. The most utilized clovers was the white dutch, followed by the ladino. I quit using the white dutch as the deer would annihilate the plots, often pulling it up by the roots, and it seems to require lots of mowing. I have used some white dutch a couple of years ago and it has been well utilized but not totally destroyed by the deer. I've tried alfalfa since then and while it grows fairly well, the deer are more or less uninterested in it. I have seen deer utilizing in in agricultural fields, but they mainly seem to like the new growth after a first cutting.
I think you hit the nail right on the head. "When they have a choice" is the operative phrase. The alfalfa that I mentioned their eating is where alfalfa is extensively growing. Where there is second growth clover, they will eat that. The stuff that they eat in deer yards (stuffing foods like witchopple, beech and softwood, they walk right by the rest of the year.
In my area the clover has gone to seed and need a cutting, there is no hurry because the deer have moved on to the soybeans. The doe are bringing the fawns into the soybean fields before dark, I was watching a doe with two fawn and her yearling, doing a number on our second batch of soybeans. Once the soybeans have stopped shooting, they will be feeding on the clover again, then when the acorns drop they will move onto them. Not the red ones, only the white, I have seen deer walk many times under the red and stop at the white. during the year they feed on greenbriar, dogwood bushes, other items I consider weed and they really like feeding on ragweed in my area.
we have tried planting buckwheat, oats, brassicas including purple top turnips. These deer around here refuse to eat these crops, even dug out some purple top turnips two years in a row, they refused to even try them. Had a feeder with corn out for a couple years, doe would bring the fawns in July and August, then we wouldn't get any pictures until the following Spring.
I haven't had enough time to figure out what the deer like in Tioga County , N. Y. So far they have only turned down my buckwheat, but love soybeans, clover and brassicas, including turnips and ate them to ground level.
only regret that I have about foodploting, wish I would have started it 20 years ago.