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Thread: Hay Versus Straw?? Do the Deer FEED on this?

  1. #1
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    Hay Versus Straw?? Do the Deer FEED on this?

    I live near a leased field and the farmer that rounds up the hay generously give me a couple of bails every year or so. He leaves a bunch for the deer also. However I never seem to see any activity of the deer or much sign that anything is eaten? MY Question: I would like to bring some fresh hay, this year’s crop out in the woods next to the feeder since we have an extended month (JAN).The winter pretty harsh this year and heavy snow makes for some tuff eating. So If I bring out some hay will they take advantage of it or is it not worth it? More of a locational thing? Also how long before it’s uneatable? When does Hay turn to Straw?
    thanks

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  2. #2
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    straw is the stalks of wheat, hay won't turn to straw. they might browse through the hay but won't eat it all... good luck

  3. #3
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    Hay doesn't turn to straw
    Hay is generally a grass ,alphalfa, clover mix
    While straw is the stalks left over after the wheat have been threshed and removed
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  4. #4
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    Straw can be wheat, oats, barley, rye, ect. It is what is baled after harvesting the crop. Hay is cut and baled from grasses, timothy, alfalfa, clovers, ect... I don't really think that the deer will "feed" on either. But maybe...

  5. #5
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    deer will destroy alfalfa bales around here.

    straw has no food value i know of
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  6. #6
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    This time of the year, I will break open a couple grass and alfalfa hay bales and leave it in a few spots in the woods. The deer will nose around in it and eat some, especially if snow and ice is making it rough on them. I agree that the deer will not act like it is candy, at least in my area of Ohio. As above, straw is used for bedding or "hay" rides in a farm wagon, or in livestock stalls to soak up the urine.
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  7. #7
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    I think deer will eat hay as a last resort, or maybe out of boredom if it's where they are bedding. I usually have 50 to 100 large round bales of grass/alfalfa hay sitting out on the edge of the hayfield all winter. They will scrape through snow to get to what's left in the field, but have never once munched on the bales right next to them. Even the second cutting bales which is very heavy on alfalfa with minimal stalk don't seem to interest them. Maybe if you broke one up so they could get at the fresh hay on the inside, especially in an area they are loafing, they might use it. They sure love it right after it's cut and not baled yet. Then they stand on the windrows an feast. Dried and baled, never touch it that I've seen.

    Could be they just have a better food source around here, but they don't seem to like it once it's put up.

  8. #8
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    With all the snow on the ground I went next door to the farm and they gave me a hefty bag full of alfalfa. I wanted to buy a couple of bails to feed the deer but the owner said when she put some out the deer did not touch it but she was willing to let me try with the bag full she gave me.
    Well the deer did not eat any of it, none, nada, zip. I put some in my yard where they would come eat some corn I would sprinkle out but not eat the alfalfa, even when the corn was gone and almost two feet of snow on the ground. They did not eat it at the huntable county park either, even when I put some molasses on it. This is in central NJ.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by nycredneck View Post
    With all the snow on the ground I went next door to the farm and they gave me a hefty bag full of alfalfa. I wanted to buy a couple of bails to feed the deer but the owner said when she put some out the deer did not touch it but she was willing to let me try with the bag full she gave me.
    Well the deer did not eat any of it, none, nada, zip. I put some in my yard where they would come eat some corn I would sprinkle out but not eat the alfalfa, even when the corn was gone and almost two feet of snow on the ground. They did not eat it at the huntable county park either, even when I put some molasses on it. This is in central NJ.
    Cutting, drying and baling must really change the flavor. They're all over alfalfa before its cut or while its laying in windrows.

  10. #10
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    Clover or alfalfa, forget timothy hay. Straw is to sleep on, not eat.
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  11. #11
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    maybe this guy can help..

  12. #12
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    they may eat hay but they will bed down on the straw............

  13. #13
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    Hunted around rolls for years, deer never eat it. Is a good cover scent. Roles of alfalfa are a different story, deer like that.

  14. #14
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    Yeah, why is it that they slam the hay fields before its cut but wont touch it afterwards?
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  15. #15
    straw is the stalk of wheat,rye, etc, it is used for bedding cattle and mixing in the rations for fiber to stimulate rumination. however with straw prices now, there are better alternatives,lol. we have had deer browse through some 2nd and 3rd cutting alfalfa/clover hay, mostly after they are stressed for lack of food. the reason they dont like it is because when it is still growing, it is tender and soft, hen it is dry it is harder to swallow

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Buckeyehunter12 View Post
    Yeah, why is it that they slam the hay fields before its cut but wont touch it afterwards?
    they will hammer the new growth in the following weeks after its cut

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by davejohnson2 View Post
    straw is the stalk of wheat,rye, etc, it is used for bedding cattle and mixing in the rations for fiber to stimulate rumination. however with straw prices now, there are better alternatives,lol. we have had deer browse through some 2nd and 3rd cutting alfalfa/clover hay, mostly after they are stressed for lack of food. the reason they dont like it is because when it is still growing, it is tender and soft, hen it is dry it is harder to swallow
    Makes sense... Thanks.
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  18. #18
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    My deer hammer alfalfa bails. I just put out a 1/4 at a time next to my corn feeder and they kill it. Kinda break it up a bit.

  19. #19
    To answer your question try breaking the bale up and rolling it out. If they still don't touch it drop a match to it. They will not eat old hay if there is something better.
    As for straw, the definition has already been given. The only reason a deer would browse on this is if the chaff of the grain was blown onto the swath before it was bailed. We had a chaff blower rigged up on our combine to drop the chaff on the swath instead of spreading it. When bailed the cattle would then pick at the straw as well, saves a few hay bales eventually. Otherwise no, straw is useless for deer.

    Deer will pound hay like there is no tomorrow, heck many Sask outfitters would be out of business if they didn't. The key is the condtion of the hay, it has to be second cut. Meaning the field was cut once then regrew and was cut again. We take first cut in june/july and second cut in late august. Ideally if it can be bailed with no rain on the hay while it was down it turns out to be just like candy. Alfalfa mixed even with brome is a good mix. Many guys here have game fences built around their bales stacks to keep the elk and deer out over winter. If your hay bales aren't off the field when the first big snow hits you can kiss them goodbye to the elk and deer. Second cut is actually a not bad business because few people here take it, fewer get it up in good condition and even fewer yet mess with little square bales. We give the deer here 2 squares a couple times a week and have them hanging around in the yard all winter long. Makes a mess to clean up in spring but nice to watch and nice to know they will make the winter.

  20. #20
    Around here when winter gets tough and the snow is deep the mulies and whitetails come pouring into the stack yards. Not necessarily high quality hay, but when they are starving they aren't real picky.

    As said above, if you want to feed hay when they have other options you'll need quality 2nd or 3rd cutting alfalfa. Typically serious horse people will have the best hay...much better than the average cattle rancher.

  21. #21
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    Do a search on this under google. actually in the winter the deer's stomach changes so they can process more browse than grasses. They eat more tree tips in the winter as the lower browse is covered. I have seen reports where deer still don't do well after being fed hay as they cannot digest it after their stomachs go into winter mode.

  22. #22
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    I have a recent trailcam pic of a 6 pointer still w/rack, eating alfalfa not too far from my house. Up to this year, only had does on cam there post and pre-rut. I have race horse quality, wash state alalfa, near my barn cleaning pile. I put up the cam to see how big my rabbits and coyotes were and how often they visit the pile. Very heavy, leafy alfalfa, and -26 degrees. They are in survival mode here now.
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  23. #23
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    I noticed a place near me that raises deer feed hay, I assume it's alfalfa. Their deer look healthy so they are obviously eating it, but they don't have anything else in their pen. I don't know if or what they supplement the hay with.

  24. #24
    deer eat hay fresh & during the winter. if feeding deer hay during the winter it'd help to break up the hay bale some so its easier to eat the hay, those round bails can be packed very tight.

  25. #25
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    "Hay" is like saying "fish". Walleye, is not tuna. Hay in broad terms is usually timothy/mix. They want the clover/and alfalfa. They would have to be starving to look at timothy/broome/ other hays.
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