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Digestive Capacity and Diets of White-Tailed Deer and Exotic Ruminants

Scott E. Henke, Stephen Demarais and James A. Pfister
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 52, No. 4 (Oct., 1988), pp. 595-598
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3800913
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3800913
Page Count: 4
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Digestive Capacity and Diets of White-Tailed Deer and Exotic Ruminants
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Abstract

We collected 20 axis deer (Axis axis), 15 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), 14 blackbuck antelope (Antilope cervicapra), 14 sika deer (Cervus nippon), and 11 fallow deer (Dama dama) in the Edwards Plateau Region of central Texas during 21 May-22 July 1986. Relative ruminoreticular capacity, an index of digestive capability, varied (P < 0.0001) among species. Our results support the hypothesis that sika deer, fallow deer, and blackbuck antelope are better able to digest grass than white-tailed deer. Forage class composition of rumen contents varied (P < 0.0001) among species. White-tailed deer consumed mainly forbs; axis deer, fallow deer, and blackbuck antelope consumed >93% grass; and sika deer consumed near equal amounts of grass and forbs. Percent crude protein of rumen contents for each species paralleled the amount of forbs consumed.

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