The feeding value of forage herbs: studies with red deer


  • S.O. Hoskin
  • P.R. Wilson
  • M. Ondris
  • A.H. Bunod



This paper summarises three studies that: 1) compared the feeding value of perennial ryegrass-based pasture with chicory and plantain during 8 weeks grazing by weaner red deer in spring 2003 and 13 weeks grazing plantain by weaner deer during autumn 2004; 2), compared the liver copper, liver and serum vitamin B12 and blood selenium status of weaner red deer grazing ryegrass-based pasture, chicory or plantain for 8 weeks during spring 2003; and 3) determined the effect of grazing perennial ryegrass-based pasture alone, or with intermittent grazing of plantain from 1 month pre-partum to 1 month post-partum on liver copper and vitamin B12 status of calves during December 2004 and January 2005. Feeding value (as determined by liveweight gain) of chicory was 40-48% higher than other forages in spring. Feeding value of plantain was 14% higher than pasture in autumn, but similar to pasture in spring. Grazing chicory significantly enhanced the liver copper concentration of weaner deer in spring compared with both ryegrass and plantain. Grazing plantain significantly enhanced the copper status of weaners in autumn, but not of weaners or calves in spring and early summer, enhanced the vitamin B12 status of weaners in autumn and spring and calves in early summer and increased the selenium status of weaners during both spring and autumn. This study has highlighted the complementary role of forage herbs in improving growth and maintaining trace element status of farmed deer. Keywords: chicory, plantain, copper, vitamin B12, selenium, weaner deer