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#7223126 - 07/12/18 06:40 PM Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption
stxranchman Online   content
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52970
I have noticed now for the past 3 yrs that when I get rainfall in late May and all of June the protein consumption go to next to nothing. I have fed protein year round since 2012 and never let the feeders run empty. I started planting food plots 4 yrs ago now. Their success is dependent on rainfall timing. The last 2 yrs the plots came up then get eaten to nothing within two weeks in April. I would then get a rain in May and the cowpeas would put on new leaf growth. That would get totally eaten off again. Then some really rains in June and everything would put on new growth-browse and food plots. I was only at 7" of rain this year up till June 18th. That was about 40% of normal for that same time frame. Now I am about 1" above my normal average for this time of year.
This year I planted food plots late and they came up with late April rainfall and eaten off in 2 weeks. Protein consumption was at 60#/day prior to food plots in April. It dropped down some but was back up to 55#/day till the really good rains on June 19th hit. Now they hardly touch the protein or the corn for that matter. Last year it was the same when it rained in June. Last year I filled feeders on June 8th, 4 days after a good rain. It continued to rain all of June. Then got a little dry till Aug 3rd when I had a 4.5 to 5" rain in one day. Then 3 weeks later the hurricane hit and I had 6.5 to 8" that made it into the gauges but with high winds I think it was more than that. It continued to rain another 2.5-3" in Sept. I did not have to refill protein feeders till Sept 13th. So that was a little over 3 months on full feeders(250# capacity). This year I filled all the feeders on June 23rd and consumption was still around 55#-60# day till it rained 12"+ since then. Feeders still have 50% or more of the feed in them as of this morning. I have always seen a large increase in protein consumption again in October when the bucks are hitting feeders really hard before the mid Nov rut. Makes for some great bow hunting at that time if we get some cooler temps and consistent winds.
The one thing that is different this year is the persimmon crop made this year. Years past there were a few but did not last to long. I was shredding roads/fencelines yesterday and saw a lot of green ones and some black ones. I have a lot of persimmons so they can be a lot of them off the roads that I did not see. I could see in the hog, coyote and coon scat on the roads that it was black and had seeds in it. So I know the deer are eating persimmons now if those critters are. I saw quite a few huisache beans on the ground and saw them in the hog scat. Seen quite a few blackbrush beans on the ground also and a few green mesquite beans. All the rest of the browse greened back up and put on new growth plus a seed/mast crop. I also was able to see quite a few very small live oak acorns on some of the trees. I have not had an acorn crop in 5 yrs so that will be a huge help in the fall. I went from getting a lot of pics on TC cams at feeders to not many at all with all the changes to what they are eating now. It was mainly all bucks, 90% of the pics at night were bucks. Now I might get 5-8 pics in 48 hrs.
It will be interesting to see what protein consumption does with all the rainfall and mast crops this year in comparison to the last 2 yrs. It is very pleasing to see protein consumption doing what it should do when it rains, drop off. Shows that it is still just a supplement. The protein consumption hit a high in 2014 when it was very dry. Since then it has been from 40% to 60% less than that total each of the last 3 yrs. I know I have almost twice as many bucks this year as I did back in 2014 also. Bucks that were hitting the feeder one or more times per night are now showing up maybe once every 4-8 days now.
What are others seeing right now in comparison top what I am seeing? Is feed consumption off or increased compared to years past? How is rainfall compared this year to other years?
_________________________


Top
#7223324 - 07/12/18 09:47 PM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: stxranchman]
soonersorlaters Online   content
Woodsman

Registered: 08/13/15
Posts: 155
Loc: Mansfield, TX
Originally Posted By: stxranchman
I have noticed now for the past 3 yrs that when I get rainfall in late May and all of June the protein consumption go to next to nothing. I have fed protein year round since 2012 and never let the feeders run empty. I started planting food plots 4 yrs ago now. Their success is dependent on rainfall timing. The last 2 yrs the plots came up then get eaten to nothing within two weeks in April. I would then get a rain in May and the cowpeas would put on new leaf growth. That would get totally eaten off again. Then some really rains in June and everything would put on new growth-browse and food plots. I was only at 7" of rain this year up till June 18th. That was about 40% of normal for that same time frame. Now I am about 1" above my normal average for this time of year.
This year I planted food plots late and they came up with late April rainfall and eaten off in 2 weeks. Protein consumption was at 60#/day prior to food plots in April. It dropped down some but was back up to 55#/day till the really good rains on June 19th hit. Now they hardly touch the protein or the corn for that matter. Last year it was the same when it rained in June. Last year I filled feeders on June 8th, 4 days after a good rain. It continued to rain all of June. Then got a little dry till Aug 3rd when I had a 4.5 to 5" rain in one day. Then 3 weeks later the hurricane hit and I had 6.5 to 8" that made it into the gauges but with high winds I think it was more than that. It continued to rain another 2.5-3" in Sept. I did not have to refill protein feeders till Sept 13th. So that was a little over 3 months on full feeders(250# capacity). This year I filled all the feeders on June 23rd and consumption was still around 55#-60# day till it rained 12"+ since then. Feeders still have 50% or more of the feed in them as of this morning. I have always seen a large increase in protein consumption again in October when the bucks are hitting feeders really hard before the mid Nov rut. Makes for some great bow hunting at that time if we get some cooler temps and consistent winds.
The one thing that is different this year is the persimmon crop made this year. Years past there were a few but did not last to long. I was shredding roads/fencelines yesterday and saw a lot of green ones and some black ones. I have a lot of persimmons so they can be a lot of them off the roads that I did not see. I could see in the hog, coyote and coon scat on the roads that it was black and had seeds in it. So I know the deer are eating persimmons now if those critters are. I saw quite a few huisache beans on the ground and saw them in the hog scat. Seen quite a few blackbrush beans on the ground also and a few green mesquite beans. All the rest of the browse greened back up and put on new growth plus a seed/mast crop. I also was able to see quite a few very small live oak acorns on some of the trees. I have not had an acorn crop in 5 yrs so that will be a huge help in the fall. I went from getting a lot of pics on TC cams at feeders to not many at all with all the changes to what they are eating now. It was mainly all bucks, 90% of the pics at night were bucks. Now I might get 5-8 pics in 48 hrs.
It will be interesting to see what protein consumption does with all the rainfall and mast crops this year in comparison to the last 2 yrs. It is very pleasing to see protein consumption doing what it should do when it rains, drop off. Shows that it is still just a supplement. The protein consumption hit a high in 2014 when it was very dry. Since then it has been from 40% to 60% less than that total each of the last 3 yrs. I know I have almost twice as many bucks this year as I did back in 2014 also. Bucks that were hitting the feeder one or more times per night are now showing up maybe once every 4-8 days now.
What are others seeing right now in comparison top what I am seeing? Is feed consumption off or increased compared to years past? How is rainfall compared this year to other years?


Protein station activity increased over the past month on our place for all the right reasons. Lack of rain and subsequently less natural browse. Mother Nature's food wins out every time over anything humans can lay out. For those that have experienced what a bumper acorn crop in the fall can do to feeder activity,.....................well, I digress.

Top
#7223429 - 07/13/18 06:14 AM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: soonersorlaters]
stxranchman Online   content
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52970
Originally Posted By: soonersorlaters
Originally Posted By: stxranchman
I have noticed now for the past 3 yrs that when I get rainfall in late May and all of June the protein consumption go to next to nothing. I have fed protein year round since 2012 and never let the feeders run empty. I started planting food plots 4 yrs ago now. Their success is dependent on rainfall timing. The last 2 yrs the plots came up then get eaten to nothing within two weeks in April. I would then get a rain in May and the cowpeas would put on new leaf growth. That would get totally eaten off again. Then some really rains in June and everything would put on new growth-browse and food plots. I was only at 7" of rain this year up till June 18th. That was about 40% of normal for that same time frame. Now I am about 1" above my normal average for this time of year.
This year I planted food plots late and they came up with late April rainfall and eaten off in 2 weeks. Protein consumption was at 60#/day prior to food plots in April. It dropped down some but was back up to 55#/day till the really good rains on June 19th hit. Now they hardly touch the protein or the corn for that matter. Last year it was the same when it rained in June. Last year I filled feeders on June 8th, 4 days after a good rain. It continued to rain all of June. Then got a little dry till Aug 3rd when I had a 4.5 to 5" rain in one day. Then 3 weeks later the hurricane hit and I had 6.5 to 8" that made it into the gauges but with high winds I think it was more than that. It continued to rain another 2.5-3" in Sept. I did not have to refill protein feeders till Sept 13th. So that was a little over 3 months on full feeders(250# capacity). This year I filled all the feeders on June 23rd and consumption was still around 55#-60# day till it rained 12"+ since then. Feeders still have 50% or more of the feed in them as of this morning. I have always seen a large increase in protein consumption again in October when the bucks are hitting feeders really hard before the mid Nov rut. Makes for some great bow hunting at that time if we get some cooler temps and consistent winds.
The one thing that is different this year is the persimmon crop made this year. Years past there were a few but did not last to long. I was shredding roads/fencelines yesterday and saw a lot of green ones and some black ones. I have a lot of persimmons so they can be a lot of them off the roads that I did not see. I could see in the hog, coyote and coon scat on the roads that it was black and had seeds in it. So I know the deer are eating persimmons now if those critters are. I saw quite a few huisache beans on the ground and saw them in the hog scat. Seen quite a few blackbrush beans on the ground also and a few green mesquite beans. All the rest of the browse greened back up and put on new growth plus a seed/mast crop. I also was able to see quite a few very small live oak acorns on some of the trees. I have not had an acorn crop in 5 yrs so that will be a huge help in the fall. I went from getting a lot of pics on TC cams at feeders to not many at all with all the changes to what they are eating now. It was mainly all bucks, 90% of the pics at night were bucks. Now I might get 5-8 pics in 48 hrs.
It will be interesting to see what protein consumption does with all the rainfall and mast crops this year in comparison to the last 2 yrs. It is very pleasing to see protein consumption doing what it should do when it rains, drop off. Shows that it is still just a supplement. The protein consumption hit a high in 2014 when it was very dry. Since then it has been from 40% to 60% less than that total each of the last 3 yrs. I know I have almost twice as many bucks this year as I did back in 2014 also. Bucks that were hitting the feeder one or more times per night are now showing up maybe once every 4-8 days now.
What are others seeing right now in comparison top what I am seeing? Is feed consumption off or increased compared to years past? How is rainfall compared this year to other years?


Protein station activity increased over the past month on our place for all the right reasons. Lack of rain and subsequently less natural browse. Mother Nature's food wins out every time over anything humans can lay out. For those that have experienced what a bumper acorn crop in the fall can do to feeder activity,.....................well, I digress.

A good acorn crop will do wonders for the deer herd....not so much for the hunters if they stick to hunting feeders. I have had to deal with acorns still falling into late Dec. before in the 1992 season, so it is nothing new.
Are your deer numbers up where you hunt compared to years past? Did the drought in 2011 effect deer numbers?
_________________________


Top
#7223450 - 07/13/18 06:56 AM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: stxranchman]
don k Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 08/27/08
Posts: 10736
Loc: Bandera, Tx
Here it was dry in so far as surface water goes. Tanks were drying up and all spring flow had stopped. But we still got small half inch rains that kept most of the browse semi alive. Looks like we will probably have a little below average acorn crop. The persimmons are putting quite a bit of fruit. Some are now turning black. Sunday and Monday we got close to 5 inches of rain. Did not flow much. Greened everything up for now. I don't feed the Deer except for some protein tubs I have out which are mainly for the Ibex. But the Deer look in good shape and some are growing some pretty good antlers for here. Probably more so from age than nutrition.

Top
#7223519 - 07/13/18 08:13 AM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: stxranchman]
Pittstate Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 09/01/09
Posts: 5228
Loc: Katy, TX
My place is a little different than south Texas because we get 32 to 36" of rain each year (or lately). I have stopped doing my soybean and lab/lab fields in spring for Summer consumption. Finding out that there is more than enough natural spring groceries and it is not needed. My issue is around July 15 to Sept 15th. That is why I throw 1/2 protein and half corn out of several feeders. I also have went to more Alfalfa plots that stay all year. They tend to do better than my clover. Like said above, when the rains came last 2 weeks, the alfalfa sweetened up and grew, thus the deer left the feeders and hit the plots hard.

I still do the Wheat/Oat plots for winter because they do a great job providing food during winter and actually produce in May, which helps feed the deer and turkey. Also give me a great spot to hunt hogs (friends like to hunt them too). We have had some epic Turkey and Hog hunts on the wheat fields the last few years in May.

My sand plums and black berries just dried up and the persimmons are just starting to grow. Seeing lots of acorns coming on too. Bag worms are hitting the persimmons and pecans hard for the second year. Not as bad this year as I sprayed last year, but still hard enough to take away 25 to 40% of the crop.

That is the Southern Oklahoma Report. I can do the Northern Missouri report later.

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#7223551 - 07/13/18 08:53 AM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: Pittstate]
stxranchman Online   content
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52970
Originally Posted By: Pittstate
My place is a little different than south Texas because we get 32 to 36" of rain each year (or lately). I have stopped doing my soybean and lab/lab fields in spring for Summer consumption. Finding out that there is more than enough natural spring groceries and it is not needed. My issue is around July 15 to Sept 15th. That is why I throw 1/2 protein and half corn out of several feeders. I also have went to more Alfalfa plots that stay all year. They tend to do better than my clover. Like said above, when the rains came last 2 weeks, the alfalfa sweetened up and grew, thus the deer left the feeders and hit the plots hard.

I still do the Wheat/Oat plots for winter because they do a great job providing food during winter and actually produce in May, which helps feed the deer and turkey. Also give me a great spot to hunt hogs (friends like to hunt them too). We have had some epic Turkey and Hog hunts on the wheat fields the last few years in May.

My sand plums and black berries just dried up and the persimmons are just starting to grow. Seeing lots of acorns coming on too. Bag worms are hitting the persimmons and pecans hard for the second year. Not as bad this year as I sprayed last year, but still hard enough to take away 25 to 40% of the crop.

That is the Southern Oklahoma Report. I can do the Northern Missouri report later.

We are not that far apart on rainfall as my average is right around 32" per year about 50 miles off of the gulf. Our planting dates are earlier in the spring and a bit later in the fall than yours though. The problem has been chicken or feathers type rains. We get a lot for a month or two then absolutely nothing for a 45 to 60 days. Throw in the heat and it dries us out quickly. I wish we could get alfalfa or clovers to grow year round. Alfalfa is the perfect year round crop for deer if you can grow IMO. Just about anything we plant is seasonal here. I would like to try Madrid or Hubam planted in the fall here with small grains to see if I could get it to grow into May-early July. Those two clovers have done the best for me in the past.
Do you mix any clovers in your fall plots? What variety of alfalfa you using...spring planting? Have you thought about trying Sunn Hemp? I am still considering planting some this fall to use as an attractant in my hunting plots. I have heard good things about it and almost planted some this spring.
_________________________


Top
#7223596 - 07/13/18 09:52 AM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: stxranchman]
Pittstate Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 09/01/09
Posts: 5228
Loc: Katy, TX
Clover is naturally occurring "weed" in my area (arrow leaf mainly). Good weed though. Problem is the heat kills the clover in late June/early July. I will be planting clover with my wheat/oats this year. only because I was given a bunch of seed to test from a vendor. When planting clover in fall, it usually doesn't grow much until the next year, so that is why I usually don't plant it with my wheat/oats. The ground gets sprayed in late July and tilled in August. Plus, I want all the energy in the ground to go for the wheat and oats. It does make a difference.

I planted one field in early spring with soybeans 2 years ago (soybeans helps shade them in June), and they came up great. We mowed in late August and the alfalfa did great when the September rains came.

The other I planted in fall with my wheat/oats. Again, a cover crop for the next spring to help them establish. We mowed the wheat about 4 weeks ago and the alfalfa is looking awesome.

My first plot was done in spring about 7 years ago. I did it alone and it has never been very thick. I throw a little seed down every spring to help thicken it up. I bet the main reason is that it is only 1/4 acre and all the wildlife just hammer it. The others are 4 acres and 2 acres. Again, there is clover all over the place that comes up when it is cool out.

I have been planting Vernal Alfalfa from Rural King: https://www.ruralking.com/vernal-alfalfa-seed-50lb

biggest issue for Alfalfa is PH level. It can grow on rocks, but the soil can not be acidic. It just won't germinate in acidic soil (of course they have probably come up with a variety by now that will).

Top
#7223600 - 07/13/18 09:55 AM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: stxranchman]
Pittstate Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 09/01/09
Posts: 5228
Loc: Katy, TX
I brushhog Alfalfa twice a year to kill the broadleaf plants and spray Clethodim with surfactant in May to kill the grass. Don't spray the plots until alfalfa has been established for over a season. My plots look almost as good as an alfalfa field and the deer love them.

Top
#7223626 - 07/13/18 10:16 AM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: stxranchman]
soonersorlaters Online   content
Woodsman

Registered: 08/13/15
Posts: 155
Loc: Mansfield, TX
Originally Posted By: stxranchman
Originally Posted By: soonersorlaters
Originally Posted By: stxranchman
I have noticed now for the past 3 yrs that when I get rainfall in late May and all of June the protein consumption go to next to nothing. I have fed protein year round since 2012 and never let the feeders run empty. I started planting food plots 4 yrs ago now. Their success is dependent on rainfall timing. The last 2 yrs the plots came up then get eaten to nothing within two weeks in April. I would then get a rain in May and the cowpeas would put on new leaf growth. That would get totally eaten off again. Then some really rains in June and everything would put on new growth-browse and food plots. I was only at 7" of rain this year up till June 18th. That was about 40% of normal for that same time frame. Now I am about 1" above my normal average for this time of year.
This year I planted food plots late and they came up with late April rainfall and eaten off in 2 weeks. Protein consumption was at 60#/day prior to food plots in April. It dropped down some but was back up to 55#/day till the really good rains on June 19th hit. Now they hardly touch the protein or the corn for that matter. Last year it was the same when it rained in June. Last year I filled feeders on June 8th, 4 days after a good rain. It continued to rain all of June. Then got a little dry till Aug 3rd when I had a 4.5 to 5" rain in one day. Then 3 weeks later the hurricane hit and I had 6.5 to 8" that made it into the gauges but with high winds I think it was more than that. It continued to rain another 2.5-3" in Sept. I did not have to refill protein feeders till Sept 13th. So that was a little over 3 months on full feeders(250# capacity). This year I filled all the feeders on June 23rd and consumption was still around 55#-60# day till it rained 12"+ since then. Feeders still have 50% or more of the feed in them as of this morning. I have always seen a large increase in protein consumption again in October when the bucks are hitting feeders really hard before the mid Nov rut. Makes for some great bow hunting at that time if we get some cooler temps and consistent winds.
The one thing that is different this year is the persimmon crop made this year. Years past there were a few but did not last to long. I was shredding roads/fencelines yesterday and saw a lot of green ones and some black ones. I have a lot of persimmons so they can be a lot of them off the roads that I did not see. I could see in the hog, coyote and coon scat on the roads that it was black and had seeds in it. So I know the deer are eating persimmons now if those critters are. I saw quite a few huisache beans on the ground and saw them in the hog scat. Seen quite a few blackbrush beans on the ground also and a few green mesquite beans. All the rest of the browse greened back up and put on new growth plus a seed/mast crop. I also was able to see quite a few very small live oak acorns on some of the trees. I have not had an acorn crop in 5 yrs so that will be a huge help in the fall. I went from getting a lot of pics on TC cams at feeders to not many at all with all the changes to what they are eating now. It was mainly all bucks, 90% of the pics at night were bucks. Now I might get 5-8 pics in 48 hrs.
It will be interesting to see what protein consumption does with all the rainfall and mast crops this year in comparison to the last 2 yrs. It is very pleasing to see protein consumption doing what it should do when it rains, drop off. Shows that it is still just a supplement. The protein consumption hit a high in 2014 when it was very dry. Since then it has been from 40% to 60% less than that total each of the last 3 yrs. I know I have almost twice as many bucks this year as I did back in 2014 also. Bucks that were hitting the feeder one or more times per night are now showing up maybe once every 4-8 days now.
What are others seeing right now in comparison top what I am seeing? Is feed consumption off or increased compared to years past? How is rainfall compared this year to other years?


Protein station activity increased over the past month on our place for all the right reasons. Lack of rain and subsequently less natural browse. Mother Nature's food wins out every time over anything humans can lay out. For those that have experienced what a bumper acorn crop in the fall can do to feeder activity,.....................well, I digress.

A good acorn crop will do wonders for the deer herd....not so much for the hunters if they stick to hunting feeders. I have had to deal with acorns still falling into late Dec. before in the 1992 season, so it is nothing new.
Are your deer numbers up where you hunt compared to years past? Did the drought in 2011 effect deer numbers?


Our numbers seem to be fine. It certainly helped that 1/2 the ranch was closed for 2 years for wind turbine installation. Just opened back up last year. We now have to start the whole MLD process over from scratch since we could not provide the required data to TPWD. Hopefully, next year.

Top
#7223630 - 07/13/18 10:22 AM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: Pittstate]
therancher Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 07/09/13
Posts: 6584
Loc: Mountain Home, Uvalde, and Big...
Hate acorns. For some reason last year they dropped all winter and early spring and didn't rot. Animals wouldn't go to feeders until March. They really fatten the deer up but I'd much rather feed them alfalfa.

And yes, my protein bills go down with rain, but here in the hill country my browse isn't as high protein as the south texas brush is, so I'd just as soon feed protein as have rain.


Edited by therancher (07/13/18 10:24 AM)
_________________________
Crotchety old bastidge

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#7223681 - 07/13/18 11:37 AM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: stxranchman]
BowsnRods Online   content
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 05/05/08
Posts: 2169
Loc: Bandera County
We had some much needed rains last week as Don K mentioned. We were blessed with better than 4 inches and the pasture greened up quick. The consumption of protein for me has been pretty steady since January going through a ton per week divided between 4 free choice feeders. I agree with therancher that the native browse in the hill country in most cases does not provide as high a protein percentage as many areas in south texas. I supplement the lack of minerals with a summer blend cattle mineral which the deer consume as needed. We have the persimmon and the acorns and some other native plants but protein levels are average to low at best. The highest protein level plant on the ranch is lote brush which is at average 18% but not the most desirable to whitetail but great as a quail habitat due to the thorns. I have watched deer eat the leaves from the bush, but they are small and again the deer have to contend with the thorns. I am very happy though with the progression in body weight and antler growth in the supplement feeding.

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#7223921 - 07/13/18 04:21 PM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: stxranchman]
rifleman Offline
Sparkly Pants

Registered: 11/19/08
Posts: 44375
Loc: Kingwood
Iíve just been letting them freebase corn to continue to force them to eat out of a gravity feeder. Thereís been zero activity since the rains set it consistently in mid-May and the pressure cooker cut on. Typical year, but dry for March/April in comparison of the past 4-5yrs, so curious to see what thatís done.

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#7223980 - 07/13/18 05:33 PM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: Pittstate]
stxranchman Online   content
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52970
Originally Posted By: Pittstate
Clover is naturally occurring "weed" in my area (arrow leaf mainly). Good weed though. Problem is the heat kills the clover in late June/early July. I will be planting clover with my wheat/oats this year. only because I was given a bunch of seed to test from a vendor. When planting clover in fall, it usually doesn't grow much until the next year, so that is why I usually don't plant it with my wheat/oats. The ground gets sprayed in late July and tilled in August. Plus, I want all the energy in the ground to go for the wheat and oats. It does make a difference.

I planted one field in early spring with soybeans 2 years ago (soybeans helps shade them in June), and they came up great. We mowed in late August and the alfalfa did great when the September rains came.

The other I planted in fall with my wheat/oats. Again, a cover crop for the next spring to help them establish. We mowed the wheat about 4 weeks ago and the alfalfa is looking awesome.

My first plot was done in spring about 7 years ago. I did it alone and it has never been very thick. I throw a little seed down every spring to help thicken it up. I bet the main reason is that it is only 1/4 acre and all the wildlife just hammer it. The others are 4 acres and 2 acres. Again, there is clover all over the place that comes up when it is cool out.

I have been planting Vernal Alfalfa from Rural King: https://www.ruralking.com/vernal-alfalfa-seed-50lb

biggest issue for Alfalfa is PH level. It can grow on rocks, but the soil can not be acidic. It just won't germinate in acidic soil (of course they have probably come up with a variety by now that will).

Thanks for the link. I will have to check out what else the carry. We have a natural fall/winter clover hear we call Burr Clover. Most ranchers hate since cattle can bloat and die in a matter of no time when turned into pastures with it after the first of the year. By April it usually has bloomed, produced seed and then dies rapidly. I have some here on some bottom low land spots so I do not put cattle in that pasture until it has seeded and died or grass it in the summer. Like you, I planted clovers in the fall when I have the past. I mixed them into small grains and turnips for a mix seed. I also shredded or used a Haybine 16' mower set up about 10-12" high to knock the tops off the small grains and weeds in mid April to early May. That clover would then jump out like mentioned. Those clovers were Madrid and Humbam. The Hubam lasted till May and the Madrid would last until July depending on rainfall. I would then shred and replow the plot in August for planting that fall again. I let my card expire to buy restricted chemicals so I am limited on what I can use. I have had a friend that had good success when using a very light dose of Roundup over dormant alfalfa in late winter to get new growth weeds or grasses. He said it was critical to let the alfalfa have at least one year of root growth and use it at a very light rate to not kill the alfalfa. I planted in mixes with good success but to many deer for the acreages I could plant. Soil types were not the best PH ranges but it would grow 2 yrs to maybe 3 yrs before the stand was to thin and weeds were to thick. Best stands were on fields with a lot of gravely or caliche type rocks in them. I have seen stand that were 2 and 3 yr old in Concho and Tom Greene counties back in the 90's. I have also seen stand in Kendall County that were going on the 3 yrs and looked really good. They were able to cut hay off it most years. That guy was much more of a farmer than I am. You could tell the difference in his food plots. He has been planting Alfalfa up there now since the late 90's or early 2000's. He does not plant the same field over and over but rather when one gets to thin, he plants a new field and lets the old one rest or put another crop into it for a few years. He was planting the Ladik Alfalfa I think also. I was told a few years ago they were testing some Roundup Ready alfalfa.
If you have pics of your alfalfa I would love to see them.
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#7223987 - 07/13/18 05:42 PM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: BowsnRods]
stxranchman Online   content
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52970
Originally Posted By: BowsnRods
We had some much needed rains last week as Don K mentioned. We were blessed with better than 4 inches and the pasture greened up quick. The consumption of protein for me has been pretty steady since January going through a ton per week divided between 4 free choice feeders. I agree with therancher that the native browse in the hill country in most cases does not provide as high a protein percentage as many areas in south texas. I supplement the lack of minerals with a summer blend cattle mineral which the deer consume as needed. We have the persimmon and the acorns and some other native plants but protein levels are average to low at best. The highest protein level plant on the ranch is lote brush which is at average 18% but not the most desirable to whitetail but great as a quail habitat due to the thorns. I have watched deer eat the leaves from the bush, but they are small and again the deer have to contend with the thorns. I am very happy though with the progression in body weight and antler growth in the supplement feeding.

When I was in Kendall County and then leased in Bandera County those places did well with spring rains then starting in May the deer hit the feeders very hard till fall. Those ranches grew a lot of spring forbes so I think that is why every May feed consumption went up a lot. I always wanted the deer eating protein since the habitat/browse was not the best in summer and then late winter. I can only remember 2 years when it rained a lot in late April, May and into early July that deer backed way off of feed. But those were really high rainfall late winter into summer years....one ranch had 44" from Jan till July 4th. That ranch you are hunting was setup for cattle more than deer early on. I know what it looked like habitat and deer numbers wise 16 or more years ago but I know some acreage was added also. From the feed numbers sounds like the population is up a bit but with the added acreage, the density might be about the same as back then. Very unusual for a ranch that feeds that much protein for them eat extra minerals. I wished I could get them to do that hear since they back off of feed in the crucial months. The deer on that place look much better today than they did 16+ yrs ago.
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#7224043 - 07/13/18 06:31 PM Re: Rainfall, mast crops and protein consumption [Re: stxranchman]
BowsnRods Online   content
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 05/05/08
Posts: 2169
Loc: Bandera County
Thank you Stxranchman, the first 3 years of me managing the ranch were tuff because most deer older than 2yrs were 8pts or less and a bad genetic 7pt trait that has been difficult to control but we are trying to stay on top of it. The surveys have helped tremendously in maintaining a healthy population. I take pride in having a good buck to doe ratio with bucks at 2yrs and older being 8pts and better. The mineral application was something my cousin in Devine introduced me to one day when I was helping feed cattle. He explained to me that deer like cattle will consume the mineral if the body is lacking. When I applied this to the ranch in Bandera I only put the loose mineral in the protein pens so that I would know if it was actually deer consuming. I did top dress at first with corn but only did that on the first bag. I have continued to put mineral out now for the 13th year and go through about 40 lbs every couple months split between 4 feed pens. I have also noticed over the years fewer busted antlers, maybe the mineral is providing added strength to the antler development. A controlled environment can be a great thing when testing out theories and feeds!


Edited by BowsnRods (07/13/18 08:14 PM)

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