If you are looking for an inexpensive way to feed deer that wander into your garden, you may be wondering what it is and is not okay for them to have.
Deer need to be fed with caution to avoid making them sick, so do not just put food out without checking whether it is suitable for their digestive systems and whether they can consume it.
There are many things that deer can safely eat, and feeding them can be an enormously rewarding experience if you do it correctly, although you do need to be careful and think about both portion size and the type of food that you offer.
If you are going to start feeding deer, you should commit to offering at least small amounts of food in the long term, as the animals will learn to come to your yard to look for food.
Feeding deer doesn’t have to be expensive, and it’s a wonderful way to bring yourself a little closer to nature and help out some creatures that often struggle to survive. With less land and grazing spots, many deer are struggling, especially in the winter, so offering them some extra help is a great thing to do.
It’s also a good opportunity to teach children about compassion, caring for animals, and how to behave responsibly to ensure that you have a positive impact upon those animals.
What Can I Feed Wild Deer?
There are many things you can feed to wild deer, but you should introduce any new food slowly so that you don’t cause stomach upsets and digestive issues.
In general, deer eat woody, fibrous plant matter, with just a few fruits thrown in for an energy boost. It is important not to upset a wild deer’s stomach by feeding them large quantities of foods that they would never naturally find.
You can buy a corn-based feer feed, and many deer will love this, as they are very fond of corn, which is packed with sugar and energy that they can use to get themselves through the winter.
Fed alongside other foods, corn-based deer feed is a good option for fattening up the visitors in your yard and helping them to get through the winter in good health. Note that deer corn is not identical to corn that you might buy in a store, and it is much better for deer than standard corn.
One of the best things about this kind of deer feed is that it is usually reasonably inexpensive, which makes a big difference if you are feeding on a budget and you can’t afford to be putting out vast quantities of pricey foods for the deer.
Corn is readily available, fairly cheap, and extremely popular with deer, which will choose to eat corn over many other kinds of foods. However, you should not feed them exclusively corn if you want to help them stay healthy.
What Else Can You Feed Deer Besides Corn?
Deer will eat many other things, including apples, blackberries, blueberries, and other fruits such as watermelon, as well as a variety of trees and shrubs in your backyard.
However, fruit can be an expensive way of feeding the deer, so if you want cheaper options, you may be looking at grains and legumes.
These could include black eyed peas, purple hulled peas, etc., although the prices are still higher than some deer feed options, and you may find a ready-made mix more economical.
One of the cheapest ways to feed deer is to provide them with rolled oats, which are easy to digest and contain a good balance of fiber and carbohydrates.
Deer do not always go for oats as their first option, but they are among the best foods for creating a balanced and healthy diet, because they contain most of the nutrients that deer need.
Provide them alongside corn, which may help to attract the deer initially, encouraging them to then eat the oats.
There are a few other feeds that you can offer to the deer; if deer feed is unavailable, try horse, rabbit, or goat food, all of which tend to be easy to get hold of.
However, be aware that these should contain at least twelve percent protein, or they will not meet a deer’s needs. The packaging should tell you how much protein the feed contains, so choose one with a high ratio.
Do Deer Like Oats Or Corn Better?
Deer generally prefer corn to oats, perhaps because it contains more sugar. However, oats are better for them, so it is a good idea to offer both when putting food out, so that the deer are encouraged to have some of each thing.
Corn can be used to attract the deer, while oats will provide them with better nutrition and keep them healthy throughout the winter.
Both corn and rolled oats are very inexpensive ways to keep your deer fed, and a mixed feed is fairly easy to make at home, simply by combining the ingredients and stirring thoroughly (which we will cover later).
If you choose to add other foods too, they can be mixed in with the corn and oats very easily at this stage.
You may find that if you do not mix the corn and oats together, scattering them outside instead, the deer opt mostly to eat the corn, and do not bother with the oats as much.
That’s why it is better to mix the two together, rather than providing them separately because the deer are then more likely to consume the nutritious oats as well as the corn.
What Inexpensive Kitchen Scraps Can You Feed Wild Deer?
You should not feed wild deer on kitchen scraps, as these are liable to cause stomach upsets. It often takes a deer’s digestive system time to adjust to a new kind of food, but scraps are likely to be constantly changing, and therefore the deer will perpetually struggle to eat them.
You should also bear in mind that kitchen scraps are likely to contain ingredients that deer should not have, such as salt and sugar.
Many people want to feed the deer in their garden on kitchen scraps as a way of giving animals a boost and getting rid off food waste, but unfortunately, this is not good for the deer.
Although kitchen scraps can be nutritious, it’s hard to know what is safe and what is not, so it’s generally best not to feed them any.
If you do choose to feed the deer on kitchen scraps, make sure that you always check each ingredient is actually safe for deer before offering it to them.
Do not throw out cooked food or food that has been seasoned with salt, pepper, sugar, or other ingredients that deer would not naturally find.
How Do You Make Homemade Deer Feed?
If you want to make your own deer feed at home, the good news is that this is relatively easy, and you can do so by mixing corn and rolled oats together.
You can use whole kernels, cracked corn, or ground corn, and you should include equal parts corn and oats. This will give you a good balance of feed to ensure that the deer eat the oats as well.
All you need to do is mix these two together and then pour molasses over the top, helping to keep it all together. The quantities do not matter enormously but aim for around 60 milliliters of molasses for two and a half cups of oat/corn mix.
This should give you a good balance and will create a thick paste that the deer can eat easily.
Make this mix when you need it, rather than making big batches and storing them. You can seal it in an airtight container if you need to, but it’s best to make it fresh if possible.
What Do Deer Love To Eat The Most?
A deer’s top favorite foods are usually hickory nuts, acorns, beechnut acorns, and pecan nuts. They will also eat certain fruits, including persimmons, blueberries, apples, and blackberries. In the winter, some people choose to feed them pears.
It is important to note that deer do eat somewhat different things during the different seasons, and in the winter, they will prioritize fatty foods such as nuts over other plants.
Corn and oats remain a suitable food throughout the year, but consider varying the other things that you offer accordingly.
Deer also enjoy things like carrots and cabbage, but these should not really be fed to deer, as they have little nutritional value. Deer will eat them over their other foods because they are sugary, but this can make them ill.
A small scrap will not be harmful, but these shouldn’t be part of the regular feed you offer, no matter how much deer love them.
What Should You Not Feed Deer?
There are lots of things that you should not feed to a deer, including bread, potatoes, hay, cooked kitchen scraps, lettuce trimmings, or meat of any kind. The problems these cause can range from an upset stomach to a very sick animal.
You should not feed deer significant quantities of any vegetable like carrots, because this will potentially cause stomach upsets. The same goes for baked goods, pastries, and things like pasta or spaghetti; these are all things that deer will struggle to digest.
It is possible to give deer very bad health issues by feeding them the wrong foods, as they have quite delicate digestive systems, and will really suffer if they eat things that they are not supposed to. You should not give a deer any animal fat, butter, oil, or other processed foods. You should also avoid feeding a deer anything that has gone moldy or rancid, as the bacteria may make it sick too.
Mixing corn and oats is the best inexpensive way to feed deer and keep them going throughout the winter, and fortunately, the process is very simple because you just need equal parts of each, plus some molasses to make it sticky. Don’t feed the deer in your garden on your kitchen scraps, other vegetables, or large quantities of hay, because this will mess up their digestive systems and could even cause them to starve. You should feed deer with as much care as you would a pet, and ensure that you will be able to offer a consistent supply of food so that the deer do not come to depend on you and then get let down.