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Alfalfa Can Cause Bloat in Deer

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Biologist Cautions Public About Feeding Deer January 23, 2018 Wisconsin, WXPR
"....some of the bad ones people might try are corn or hay. Those can have a really bad impact. Having that much corn or hay in their stomach at one time, their stomachs aren't equipt to break that down and in the end it can cause toxic levels and have them die that way...."

... When a deer’s diet changes abruptly, so does its GI tract’s pH and microflora. Someone dumping out 50-pound bags of low-fiber, high-carb food like corn or even alfalfa hay can cause deer to develop acute acidosis and severe bloating in their gut...

... Bloat is most common in animals grazing legume or legume-dominant pastures, particularly alfalfa, ladino, and red and white clovers, but also is seen with grazing of young green cereal crops, rape, kale, turnips, and legume vegetable crops. Legume forages such as alfalfa and clover have a higher percentage of protein and are digested more quickly. Other legumes, such as sainfoin, crown vetch, milk vetch, fenugreek, and birdsfoot trefoil, are high in protein but do not cause bloat, probably because they contain condensed tannins, which precipitate protein and are digested more slowly than alfalfa or clover. Leguminous bloat is most common when cattle are placed on lush pastures, particularly those dominated by rapidly growing leguminous plants in the vegetative and early bud stages, but can also be seen when high-quality hay is fed...

Alfalfa Bales January 2018 Hunting Beast
... Pure alfalfa hay is overkill for wintering deer, mostly in the protein department. I've never heard of acidosis from alfalfa hay, but it can cause bloat, which can also kill deer. If you can find nice 2nd cutting grass hay or even fine stemmed 1st cutting grass hay, they will probably eat it and would provide a food source that pretty much meets all of a deer's maintenance needs without any dangers of eating too much, whereas other "treats" like whole corn can be like a bullet in large quantities...

Deer Friendly,
Oct 11, 2018, 3:47 PM