A grazing trial using 24 Red and 24 Hybrid (0.75 Red; 0.25 Elk) deer weaners was conducted from 1st March to 12th December 1993, to compare the feeding value of chicory (Cichorium intybus L) with that of perennial ryegrass (Lollium perenne)/white clover (Trifolium repens) pasture for increasing venison production by one year of age. The deer were rotationally grazed using dry matter allowances of 6, 6 and 7 kg DM/head/day in autumn, winter and spring respectively. Relative to deer grazing pasture, deer grazing chicory had higher voluntary feed intake (VFI), slightly lower grazing (ie. eating) time and substantially lower ruminating time. Hybrid deer had faster liveweight gain (LWG) than Red deer and were heavier at the end of all seasons (P<0.01). LWG was greater on chicory than on perennial ryegrass/white clover pasture during autumn (P<0.01) and there were forage x genotype interactions for liveweight at the end of autumn and spring, with Hybrid deer (especially stags) being heavier when grazed on chicory. Carcass weight for Red and Hybrid stags was 64.9 and 73.0 kg when grazed on chicory and 56.6 and 57.0 kg when grazed on perennial ryegrass/white clover pasture. Grazing chicory advanced the date of first cut velvet antler by 28 days and increased the weight of total (first cut+regrowth) velvet antler. It is concluded that grazing chicory increased venison production, especially in Hybrid stags with increased growth potential, and increased velvet antler production.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 55, , 120-123, 1995
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