Common Deer Diet

What Do Deer Eat? What You Need To Know

It is pretty difficult to find the type of animal that looks more majestic and graceful than the White-Tailed deer. When spotting this animal skipping through the woods, the chances are high that they are in search of food such as nuts, acorns, twigs and grass. If you have been wondering "exactly what do deer eat", then check out


The Basic Deer Diet 

The White-Tailed deer is classified as an herbivore and are mainly nocturnal grazers. They are also not very picky when comes to the plant types that they prefer to feed on. Some of the more common staples for deer include twigs, nuts, grass, corn, alfalfa, fungi and fruit.

Dietary Differences According To Seasons

The general diet of a deer will not remain constant throughout the year. They will eat what they can access. For example, in the winter months, sources of food are much harder for them to find, and the deer will usually eat a lot more shoots, bark and buds during this time. In the warmer months they typically prefer to feed on acorns, corn, nuts and a lot of green matter.  Seasonal changes also causes a dietary change for a variety of deer.

What Do Deer Eat-Preferences?

What the typical deer loves eating is usually not something that they are able to find all the time. Deer generally prefer nuts and fruit and they really enjoy hickory nuts, beechnut acorns and pecans as well as acorns. A few of favorite fruits include persimmons, blackberries, blueberries and apples. Deer will also on occasion enter a yard to feed on ornamental trees, vegetables and flowers, which often comes as a surprise to many homeowners. 


Other Common Food Sources For Deer

Some of the other sources that these foragers enjoy include sedges, clover leaves, dogwood fruit, wild crabapple and sumac foliage. Deer eat quickly and as their natural protective measures means that they avoid lingering in one spot for long. They typically feed on a small amount of food in a single area before traveling onto the next. 


The more useful adaptation on the deer is their abilities to digest the tough foods such as grass which contain cellulose. It is this ability that allows these animals to eat food which is typically widely available and at the same time useless to the majority of other animals, excepting the other ruminants like sheep, cattle, giraffes and sheep. White tails in particular are quite picky to the type of food that it is capable of ingesting.


The breeding period or rut occurs in the months of fall and is during this season that these bucks eat a lot less and usually lose around 1/3 of their overall weight. Deer have been considered for a long time as agricultural pests as they have a propensity towards feeding on crops. There are many areas that these animals are considered a nuisance as they invade yards, where they are known for eating ornamental plants. The cat owners are able to slow down the depredations in the way of using cat litter around their yards. This usually deters deer as the will smell it and then avoid these areas, as they are likely to think that a cougar or any of the other big cats may be waiting to prey on them. 


What Do Deer Eat In Captivity?

The main food source that deer eat when in captivity includes mainly hay. The more common issues of deer in captivity is associated with overfeeding the animals with grain. The majority of the deer species do not require grain. The digestive system of these animals is not equipped to handle the highly fermentable grains which can result in death caused from enterotoxemia. Deer are prone to developing gastric ulcers along with different infections caused from grains even when given to the animals in lower levels. 


For those who would like to add to their basic diet of hay, the alfalfa pellets or a combination of pellets is the better choice. General feeding for what do deer eat? is similar to the other livestock that are fed with mainly forages and little or no grains. 

This site was designed with the
website builder. Create your website today.
Start Now