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Do Deer Eat Ryegrass?

With wild deer becoming more and more popular in our towns and cities, we have noticed a spike in the number of people who are looking to feed the deer in their local area.

Although it is often a good idea to avoid feeding wild deer due to their unpredictable nature, we have seen more and more people reaching out about if deer eat ryegrass or not.

This can be due to people wanting to plant ryegrass in areas around their town and city for the local deer to eat or because they grow ryegrass for some other reason and they are trying to work out what keeps eating it.

Still, due to seeing so many people reaching out each month and asking if deer eat ryegrass we have decided to publish our own article on the topic.

Now, please keep in mind that if you are just looking for a way to feed the local deer in your area, our article on inexpensive ways to feed deer is probably your best option.

We will still be covering the three most common questions that we see about deer eating ryegrass from the community in this article though with our table of contents below making it as quick and easy as possible for our readers to navigate our article.

Do Deer Eat Ryegrass?

The majority of deer will eat ryegrass with both annual and perennial ryegrass being ate without issue by most deer species.

At certain times of the year when food sources are difficult for deer to find, they can eat huge amounts of ryegrass with ease, especially if a herd of deer find the ryegrass often being able to consume the ryegrass surprisingly fast.

There have been a number of reports where wasteground has been seeded with ryegrass to turn the waste ground into a green area only for wild deer to come in and eat all of the ryegrass within a single day.

When food is scarce, multiple deer herds of five or six deer can often join up with herds of up to two hundred deer being reported in some areas as they search for food.

If one of these larger herds does find a large reseeded ryegrass field then it is easy to see how they will be able to consume the full field within a short amount of time.

This is a common solution to many of the reports we see from people about a large ryegrass area mysteriously being consumed with most people discounting wild deer as the possible culprits due to these larger herds being so rare.

Is Ryegrass Good For Deer?

Ryegrass is considered good for deer with ryegrass being one of the better plant-based protein sources that is suitable for deer.

In addition to that, ryegrass also contains a range of vitamins and minerals in different amounts but is usually not high enough in any single vitamin or mineral to be considered a valuable nutrient source.

With ryegrass having a wide range of different vitamins and minerals in different amounts ranging from low to trace values, it is usually considered more of a base level nutritional source.

It provides a little bit of everything but other food sources will often be required by the deer to have a nutritionally complete diet.

That said, a diet of nothing but ryegrass is enough to sustain the majority of deer and keep them going until they are able to find other sources of food to add to their diet.

Due to ryegrass being a hardy plant as well as it being so common, it can be a critical food source for many wild deer during the winter months.

What Rye Grass Do Deer Like Best?

Many people believe that deer prefer annual ryegrass over perennial ryegrass due to annual ryegrass being tender but there is little to no evidence to support this.

There is plenty of evidence of deer having access to both annual and perennial ryegrass at the same time and the deer eating the different types of ryegrass without them seeming to prefer one over the other.

Although some individual deer may form their own personal preferences on the type of ryegrass that they prefer, on average, the majority of deer really don’t seem to have a favorite type of ryegrass.

Deer seem to be willing to eat ryegrass at all growth stages too even when there are other food sources available to them.

We have seen some people suggest that younger deer will only eat annual ryegrass and totally ignore perennial ryegrass but this is not true. There are plenty of documented cases of younger deer happily eating perennial ryegrass without issue.

It would seem that the theory of deer liking annual ryegrass more than perennial ryegrass is just one of those things that someone suggested on social media that ended up getting out of hand and not many people believe it as fact due to so many people blindly stating it as if it is true.

Does Ryegrass Attract Deer?

Although ryegrass can attract deer, it is usually not enough to bring deer into urban areas or other locations where the deer may be worried about potential threats to them.

If there is ryegrass growing in a remote area with plenty of visibility it can be common for deer to home in on that area to feed on the ryegrass though.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, it is surprisingly common for people to plant ryegrass over wasteground or logged areas and for deer to turn up and eat all of the ryegrass that has grown there.

Some people also use ryegrass to help prevent soil erosion in fields that will not be farmed for a prolonged period of time and it can be common for deer to be attracted to these ryegrass fields to feed too.

Due to the fields often being huge with multiple fields in the same area being planted with ryegrass at the same time, this offers plenty of food for the deer too so once the ryegrass has attracted them, they may stick around for easy meals.

Unless you managed to have a super herd of deer attracted to your fields they will usually not be able to eat enough ryegrass to cause any problems with erosion when the rain comes though so many people will leave the deer to do their thing.


That brings our article going over if deer eat ryegrass to an end. We hope that we have been able to help our readers better understand the various ins and outs of ryegrass for deers and how it can be used as deer feed in some situations. We also hope that we have been able to help you understand that even though some people will insist that deer prefer eating annual ryegrass over perennial ryegrass, there is actually very little evidence to support this.