Why plant oat as a sole source of deer forage?
As an agronomist and nutritionist one of the topics that I feel the public needs to be educated more on is the use of "buck oats" for deer. As a grazing specialist, I never recommend seeding down anything less than 3 species for anything to be grazed on because of mother nature. So many people buy a bag of oats that have a deer on the bag and think they really got something, as it grows fast and the deer eat it. Here is why I want people to consider other options.
Forage oats will yield between 1.5 and 2.0 tons of forage dry matter per acre when planted between august 1 and august 15. Yields will lower as it's planted later in the season. Oats only test 0.45% calcium, .35% phosphorous, 16% crude protein and .65 net energy of maintenance around 45 days after planting them. Now consider that forage brassicas like pasja or winfred will run around 1.75% calcium, .65% phosphorous, 21% crude protein, and .75 net energy of maintenance and yield the same amount of forage dry matter per acre. Forage peas will run 1.35% calcium, 0.38% phosphorous, 19% crude protein, .65 net energy, with the same yields per acre.
So, why plant just oats? Mix forage peas in with the oats. Maybe add some brassicas to the blend or better yet plant Grandpa Ray's grains and greens. The grains and greens contains 25% oats, 25% triticale, 25% peas, 10% radish, 10% winfred brassica and 5% turnips.
So, in summary. Peas and brassicas contain 3-4 times more calcium than forage oats. The peas and brassicas all contain the same or up to 25% more energy than oats and they all yield the same. Lastly, the peas and brassicas all contain 25% more protein than forage oats.
So, why would anyone plant just oats? Don't let a deer on a bag fool you.