Winter rye height

Winter rye height

Is your winter rye getting too high?  A foot tall and they will still eat it, but it not as desirable or beneficial to your deer herd.  So what to do?

winter rye height

Jeff had multiple daylight pictures of this freak in his winter rye.  It’s a big part of the plan in our northern latitude areas.


Mow it. So long as you don’t let it get to the stemmy stage, you can keep them coming to it by mowing. You MAY be able to pull it off even once it gets stemmy, but I’ve never tried that and can’t swear to it either way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t as effective then, as the plant has entered a more mature growth state at that point.
winter rye height

winter rye height

Winter rye height

The advantage of mowing winter rye is that it does a partial reboot of the growing cycle.   Keith McCaffrey did a study on nutrition. He told me that you can classify most greens into the following (this will be close, as it was many years ago and I can’t remember the exact names he used):
Seedling/initial emergent stage: Most highly digestible, great nutrient content

Young and rapidly growing: Still very highly digestible, typically highest nutrient content.

More mature, but still green and growing: It’s digestible and offers nutrients, but both have dropped considerably.

Fully mature, no longer offering green growth, but still green: This stage typically still offers a net gain in the energy it provides vrs energies expended to digest, but it’s the lowest net gain.
Brown and dead: Eating it provides a net energy loss, as it takes more energy to digest than it provides.

Winter rye height

One must remember that cows and goats, for example, are super ruminants, where as deer are just considered ruminants. They can’t digest more difficult to break down plant matter as super ruminants. As greenery become more and more mature, their cell walls generally get harder and thicker, making them more difficult to break down. Nutrient content also drops, making it a lose/lose scenario.

winter rye height

winter rye height

Mowing most any green that can withstand a mowing spurs new growth, which helps reboot the cycle. Deer will still eat the winter rye as it gets bigger and more mature, if it’s one of their better options or in a location they feel safer, but it doesn’t provide the same nutritional payoff.


Sep 26, 2013 | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: none

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