Managed Intensive Nutrition
Here is some insight as to what G.R.O is about and why it's unique to the wildlife industry. My background is in managed intensive grazing. I got into consulting with farmers back in 1991 and my approach was based on these concepts.
1) Soil pH and pH of the rumen should be as close to 6.5 as possible for efficient production and health. Everything in life is about balance.
2) Ruminants are selective grazers. They seek out forages that are palatable and of top quality. Certain species are more desirable at various growth phases. We always want something growing that is nutritious and healthy in front of our animals.
3) Mother nature always comes into play. Animals need to eat 365 days a year. As a result we need forages that handle cold, hot, dry and wet conditions. We also need fast growing companion crops in every blend. Bare ground means a potential for weeds. Bare ground means animals that are hungry.
4) Biodiversity means reduction in risk. Having seeds from different sources means less risk of crop failures.
5) Multi graze genetics is overlooked in the wildlife industry. Some species of brassicas are multigraze and regrow faster than others. Some clovers and legumes regrow more vigorously and handle heavier grazing pressures. This is why we spend more money on genetics and offer them as opposed to cheaper species that might grow similar heights but won't result in as much tonnage per year.
6) Plant disease packages. Better genetics means better resistance to plant diseases. Any plants that are stressed or diseased will result in lower overall nutrition and poor palatability. Deer will not stay on your land if they are not liking what is before them. If they have choices elsewhere, they will leave for those destinations.
7) Clipping. Clipping of forages when they are reaching late vegetative stages or early reproduction is essential for maintaining quality and overall tonnage for your plots. Once plants are producing seed, they are not producing much more plant height and the nutritional values of the forage begin to plunge on forages. They become fibrous, lower in sugars and mineral levels drop rapidly as well. We want to stimulate new growth, where the next bite a deer eats from that plot will be high quality nutrition.
8) Proper Fertilization. If one is deficient in sulfur, you won't see good nitrogen conversion. You will see an increase in sugar content, plant protein, energy and mineral levels if you have a balanced soil. Legumes mine a lot of potassium from the soil and potassium is needed in larger quantities than most are fertilizing for. If your not adding micro nutrients to your corn, soybean, brassica or legume program your missing the boat. Many of these trace minerals help handle stress and plant diseases. Healthy plants uptake nutrients more efficiently and are higher yielding and higher across the board on nutrition.
9) Sward density. The denser the sward is in your clover and legume plots the higher the nutrient density is typically. You might see a little less plant height but when one measures tonnage, your still seeing similar overall tons per acre. You will tend to see higher protein and mineral levels as long as your stands are not way over the norm. Brassicas and winter bulbs are an exception to the rule. You do not want to seed them to heavy. Also, the denser the plot, the less searching a deer will need to do for finding quality forages. As a result, they will burn less energy from that movement and burn less calories.
10) Animals eat to meet their energy requirements. The higher the energy values are on all forages you present before a deer, the less pounds of forage are needed to be consumed per head per day. As a result you can stock/hold more deer per acre on your property. This is what your goal should be, maximize productivity on your acres so you don't have to plant as many acres to feed your herd or you can feed more deer on a limited land base.
So, in summary, the key thing with what we are trying to educate the industry on is feed efficiency. We are making the best use of our money and time. We are also keeping the ground covered to the best of our abilities, making us good stewards of the land. It is easy to just plant "whatever", but that might result in us working harder ve