I recently attended a seminar in which the speaker spoke quite strongly about the dangers that brassicas can cause your deer herd. Supposedly the toxins found in some types of brassicas, a common food plot forage, can cause deer great harm and there have been cases of deer in Europe dying from diets high in brassicas. After hearing this, I was concerned and did some digging of my own to understand the situation better. After doing my own research, I found that this is a very hotly debated topic and one that is quite polarizing. Many people claim that this is a bunch of BS, that some people have used to sell other food plot forages. That being said, I figured we ought to examine both sides of this issue on Wired To Hunt so that you all know both sides of the story.
So first off, to hear about the potential issues with brassicas, check out this video where Dr. James Kroll provides insight into why he is concerned.
On the other hand, check out this article from Quality Whitetails editor, Lindsay Thomas, as he provides his logic for why this should not be an issue. I personally am no expert on the subject, so I can’t claim to know who is right, but I’d love to hear your opinions!
Toxic Brassics? Get Real – Lindsay Thomas Jr
There’s a myth going around the deer hunting community that brassicas – the family name for plants like kale, rape, turnips, canola and other leafy greens – are toxic to deer. The myth is based in truth: if a deer eats nothing but brassicas, or almost exclusively brassicas, health problems will likely arise. We have to put this in context. Almost every plant out there – natural and agricultural – contains compounds that, in high dosages, could be harmful to the health of deer. Brassicas are no more harmful to deer than most of the other foods deer eat every day.
“Plant secondary compounds” are bad-tasting or toxic to help repel animals that might eat the plants. Animals, however, have evolved strategies for getting around these compounds, such as resistance to the compounds and diverse browsing habits. It’s an ongoing evolutionary arms race in which plants evolve stronger defense mechanisms and animals develop offensive capabilities to overcome them.
Pokeweed, for example, contains at least two compounds (which when spelled out are about as long as this whole sentence) that are toxic to mammals, including me and you. People can safely eat “poke salad” if they pick leaves only from young plants, and if they eat in moderation. Deer browse pokeweed leaves throughout every stage of the plant’s development. Obviously, deer have their own mechanism for dealing with the toxic compounds in pokeweed. For one, they aren’t eating pokeweed exclusively – it is just one of many plants making up the green soup in their stomachs….
To read the rest of the article, click here.
So what do you think? Thumbs up or down for brassicas in your food plots?