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Domestic grasses and legumes, and wild forbs were tested in feeding and digestion trials with young cottontails (Sylvilagus floridanus) during spring, summer, and autumn. Grasses were the poorest foods in all seasons and were particularly indigestible during summer. Legumes were generally better foods than grasses, but their nutritive value likewise declined as the plants matured in summer. Among eight species of wild forbs, four were excellent foods during at least one of the three seasons. It is concluded that young cottontails require highly digestible food which can be provided by palatable plants in vigorous growth stages. In habitats managed for cottontails, adequate nutrition of young rabbits can be assured by establishing polytypic stands of wild forbs, the variety of species in such stands providing some plants in a stage of vigorous growth throughout the growing season.
The Journal of Wildlife Management © 1969 Wiley