Watching deer roaming around gives your property a majestic feel. However, if they are hungry, they can quickly ravage all your plants and vegetables, and then they become a nuisance.
You’ll find many individuals want to get rid of the deer, although it’s nice to feed them, especially in the colder times of the year when food is scarce.
Deer are wild and they should be treated as such. One thing to note is that deer are prone to chronic wasting disease, and deer on your property with this can change something adorable into something hard to bear.
Infected deer can pass this on through urine, feces, blood, and saliva although it stems from contaminated food or water sources. You need to be sure food for deer won’t lead to this, so feeding deep can be far more complicated than you think.
Here you can learn more about what do deer eat in the winter, feeding deer in your backyard, and should you offer any supplemental food to what they can forage for? (Learn How to Make Homemade Deer Repellent)
Should I Feed the Deer in My Backyard?
You’ll find many deer feeders who say it’s okay to feed the deer that roam around. Even if you have a way to feed deer such as deer feeders that are often used, you can find a different result.
Deer who are fed can succumb to famine, predators, and disease, among other things. Even larger deer can kick out at smaller ones while at a deer feeder when deer food is in short supply.
The Whitetail deer roaming in New Hampshire has developed many natural adaptations to help them survive winters. First up is the thick winter coat full of hollow hairs and the accumulation of fat in the fall. The fat storage is for use later in the winter.
No matter the amount of food or the quality that is available, at these times adult deer will lose 20% of their body weight across the winter.
Over winter, it is cover rather than forage, which becomes the primary factor for survival. Avoiding severe snow, high winds, and extreme cold, it is here where deer seek some softwood cover.
Wintering deer spread out far enough so there isn’t too much competition for food the deer eat.
Deer in your backyard at these times can have unnatural influences on the deer population. When you attract deer to feed sites, and there are a high number of animals. You can find this density:
- Attracts predators such as coyotes or domestic dogs.
- Spreads disease among the deer population.
- Raises aggression, which wastes energy reserves and can lead to injury or death.
- Fat reserves will be reduced as deer travel to and from the feed site.
- Access to food is denied for any subordinate deer and there is far less food for fawns when larger deer take authority.
Wherever you put a feeder for feeding the deer on your property, it should be close to a water source. Wild animals need water even more than they need deer feed left out for the deer to eat. (Read Natural Deer Repellent Essential Oils)
What Do Deer Love To Eat the Most?
When you look at what do deer like to eat, deer love fruits and nuts, and it can be the fruit types of plants that attract deer throughout the year. Natural food they eat when they can find them are beechnuts, acorns, pecans, and hickory nuts.
For fruits, they like blueberries and blackberries, but nothing will match apples as the top food to attract deer. Trees and shrubs and any other variety of plants you have around your garden are easy pickings year-round.
Once there is new food introduced, the animals will keep coming into the yard, and can become a local backyard pest.
What Can I Feed Wild Deer in the Winter?
Researching the supplemental food and plants you can grow in your over the winter can be vital when selecting a decent winter food plot.
The plants must be nice enough to lure deer to the area of food. It’s better to find food sources, which are proven to be healthy and tasty for the deer.
Corn and root bulbs are often seen as good crops to feed deer over the winter months. However, it is recommended for deer to come to eat cereal grains such as oats, rather than them being fed a diet of corn. Corn lacks a decent level of protein, yet deer may eat it when hungry.
Oats and manufactured deer food lack high starch contents, which makes it tough for a deer’s stomach to digest the corn repeatedly from the deer feeder. Oats are often one of the principal ingredients inside large quantities of manufactured deer food pellets.
Corn is complex as deer herds are living in regions where corn is produced and available as a food source throughout the year as part of the deer’s diet. Here, the deer can eat this food source with no negative harm. (Find the Best Pet Safe Weed And Feed)
The stomach of the deer is adaptive and produces acids required to break down the high starch content.
For feeding deer in your backyard, avoid natural corn. However, there is an alternative in the way of deer corn. Deer corn is specially formulated with a high carbohydrate and fat content. Here, the deer are given a positive energy boost over long winters.
In addition, it is easy to leave mineral blocks scattered about so the deer can nutrients and minerals the deer need far away from the deer’s feeders at this time of year.
Winter is a critical time for whitetails, while hunters are a threat, you’ll find deer hunters refrain from supplemental feeding to keep deer coming to a prime hunting spot.
What Should You Not Feed Deer?
Bread, like corn, contains elements, which are too high in starch for a deer to comfortably digest. The starch content of wheat and barley leads to the deer having indigestion to death, based on how much the deer eats.
Feeding bread to deer appears to be innocent enough, yet it’s harmful to all of them. Most times, you should not feed wheat, barley, or corn to deer in your yard.
One issue comes with deer not being smart enough to not eat foods that are harmful to them. The issue comes as their stomach isn’t suited to break down too much starch.
If they eat too much of something starchy, it can kill them. In the winter, when trees are bare and the ground is frozen, there may not be much else to eat, so the deer could mistakenly ingest them.
Adding to these foods not to give to deer, you can find alfalfa and hay could be used for feed with caution and with limitations. Deer that are starving or eating fewer rations as the trees offer little, will struggle to digest hay. The reason being their stomachs swell significantly.
Winter is tough on deer and knowing what to feed deer in winter is as important as what not to feed them.
The usual food sources can be buried under snow, and they will forage for any food where they can find it., hence the reason they venture into your yard.
Scraps are often left as these are also a bad idea. In many areas, it may appear the deer population is high, however in some areas, the numbers are far lower. For instance, the white-tailed deer population is reducing in some areas. (Learn How To Fill Chipmunk Holes)
Rebuilding a deer herd is a focus for many regions, and it is hunting, that raises an enormous amount of money for the economy that enables them to carry on with this deer conservation.
Deer are disappearing for a variety of reasons, and there is as much illegal hunting having an impact as there are people who feed the deer and think it’s the right thing to do.
Recent reports show the need for a winter-feeding strategy for deer, and with this, there are to be the benefits shown to the public for the risks and dangers associated with supplemental feeding, as well as any benefits.
Supplemental feeding of deer has seen a rise in the past year, and it is far worse than tossing a few apples for dear to forage for. (Learn How to Keep Squirrels Out of Garden)
Supplemental feeding contributes to winter mortality of deer, and such is the impact, there are talks of banning the practice of feeding deer.
The DIF&W’s website states it is best to not start feeding deer and the best option is not to feed deer or other wildlife.
They will locate deer feeding sites and start a daily feeding program around deer wintering areas. These will be away from roads, and they will distribute feed in locations daily to reduce competition among deer and fend off threats from other wildlife.
Now, you know what to feed and what not to feed. If you see deer close to your backyard, feed deer a few apples and nothing else. They are given foods in the right places, or some trees offer what they need for their diet.
It sounds nice to plant things for dear, yet doing so can cause more harm than good to the animals.