The University of Arizona

Observations of white-tailed deer cattle diets in Mexico.

A. Martinez, V. Molina, F. Gonzales, J.S. Marroquin, J. Navar


Most rangelands in northern Nuevo Leon, Mexico, have been grazed intensely for more than 10 years simultaneously by cattle and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus texanus). There is a lack of information concerning diet selection of white-tailed deer and cattle in this region. We observed the dietary preferences of these ungulates in northeastern Nuevo Leon for a 6 month period. Two adjacent areas were subjected to rotational grazing (RG) and continuous cattle grazing (CG). Fecal analysis was used to determine dietary overlap of these 2 sympatric ruminants. Cattle diets averaged 70% grasses, 23% browse, and 4% forbs. Deer diets were 63% browse, 24% forbs and 12% grasses in both areas. The preferred species for cattle in both areas were grasses. Deer preferred fortes on the continuous grazed area and grasses on rotational grazed area. Zacate toboso [Hilaria mutica (Buckl.] Benth.) was the most preferred species by both ruminants in both management systems. Differences between cattle and deer diets were significant (P < 0.05). The similarity index was higher on the rotational grazed (23%) than on the continuous grazed area (15%) (P < 0.05). The higher similarity index in RG area may have been a result of the altered forage preferences of deer. Zacate toboso under RG could be an important feed resource in those areas where white-tailed deer and cattle graze in common.


chaparral;browse plants;continuous grazing;species diversity;Odocoileus virginianus;diet;rotational grazing;natural grasslands;cattle;seasonal variation;botanical composition

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