Deer eat plants, grasses, leaves, twigs, grass, bark, and even shoots of trees. Other times, they feed on nuts, fruits, mushrooms, berries, and farm crops. Whitetail like rice bran that people put out.
Besides taking normal food, they also achieve their nutritional balance by synthesizing microbial symbionts present in their stomach. Deer usually have a deficiency of nutrients like phosphorus, crude protein, and others.
How Much Food do they Need?
Deers usually travel to half or three-quarters miles before they eat. When they have access to food, they will eat 3 pounds of feed. But during winter, when they have limited food options, they will take 4 pounds of food. The best times to feed your deer are during sunrise and sunset, and it should be an open area as these creatures prefer it.They are always looking for food.
How often the deers will want to feed depends on the type of food they have consumed. If it is low fiber foods, then they will need food after every four hours. And during late fall, when the foods are mainly high fiber, the deer will feed on high fiber plants. This food usually takes longer during digestion, and the deer will take about seven hours before they feed again.
Whitetail deer usually select food selection based on the availability of plants, nutrition, appetite, and palatability.
Examples of Deer Food
List of what they eat
- Legumes (e.g., clover, alfalfa)
- Tree leaves and twigs (e.g., maple, oak, willow)
- Buds and shoots
- Bark (e.g., cedar, pine)
- Berries (e.g., blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)
- Garden vegetables (e.g., beans, lettuce, peas)
- Flowers (e.g., tulips, hostas, sage, daylilies)
- Herbs (e.g., mint, parsley)
- Seedlings and saplings
- Farm crops (e.g., soybeans, corn)
- Cherry trees
- Plum trees
- Pear trees
- Beech trees
- Hickory trees
- Chestnut trees
- Mulberry trees
- Black gum trees
- Eastern hemlock
- Birch trees
- Wild grapes
One of the most favorite foods for deer is nuts. They like eating acorns, pecans, beechnuts, and hickory nuts. The oak trees produce acorn fruits, and deer prefer fruits from white oak than the red oak trees. This is because the latter is sweeter.
Grasses and Plans
Deer also love grasses and other plants, such as flowering weeds. And if you have a field with wildflowers, then it’s the best grazing field for your deer. Most fields near forests have plenty of red clovers, wild roses, and dandelions which are a favorite snack. They also prefer forests because it gives them cover while traveling long distances to look for desirable food and water. They do not like strong tasting plants like sage.
Though this might not be on your expected list, deer enjoy fruits. Whitetails get their energy from the sugars in these fruits. Some of their favorite fruits include apples, pumpkins, sumac heads, and persimmons. Whitetails will also eat the fruits that have fallen to the ground. But note that though they feed on it, they are limited and do not form a major component of their diet.
Deer also love feeding on crops, and they are considered as agricultural pests. These animals usually invade the ranch of other people and eat any plant on their way. If you are rearing dear ones and prefer feeding on crops, you can slow them by placing whitetails litter around the crops they love to feed on. Since they have a strong sense of smell, they will avoid the area.
Mushroom is one of the supplements of the deer’s diet. Deer eat most species of mushrooms, including those which are poisonous to a common person. Usually, they eat the mushrooms found at the base of trees in the woods.
There is little food for them during winter, and due to limited choices, they eat everything in their way. Tiny buds of bushes and trees and fallen leaves and twigs are some of the foods eaten by deer during this period.
How they feed
They don’t have upper incisors but a dental pad on the upper mandible, which presses against their lower incisors when gripping food. They rip this grip loose when they tug their head in a motion, and they also have tough crescent ridges in their enamel which helps them grind tough food.
Deer can digest tougher foods such as grass containing high amounts of cellulose. This makes them eat different types of available food, which are not even preferred by non-ruminants. But during their breeding period in the fall, the bucks usually eat less and will lose a lot of weight.
Do dear eat mums?
Deer do not eat mums. In general, deer reject them because the flowers of this plant produce a strong odor that keeps away certain animals from touching them. In short, the bad smell of the plant keeps the predators away.
Mums are flowering plants that are referred to as chrysanths and chrysanthemum. While you can plant them with ease, they can spread out on their own depending on specific environments. In many European and Asian countries, mums have different types of commercial uses. And, it made its way into the US gradually.
Because mums are photoperiodic, it means the flowers bloom when days start to become short. Many people use mums as a natural pesticide for other herbs and plants. Also, they can keep a tab on air pollution. And, can be used to prepare certain beverages. In some Asian countries, mums are used to making tea a well.
Deer eat green plants during the summer and spring seasons. When searching for food, they come across household gardens. Hence, to avoid this, you need to plant mums along the sides of your garden. Besides, deer won’t go near mums if there are other food sources around. In reality, mums aren’t at the top of their list of eatables.
Do they eat roses?
There is no denying that deer eat roses and they do it often. Moreover, they don’t care about the thorns and are known to eat almost every part of the plant.
So, if you are interested in growing roses, make sure to keep the plants safe from deer and other predators.
Because deer are herbivores, they love to eat plants and roses are not an exception. Apart from that, deer are opportunists that tend to eat anything readily available. Moreover, these animals eat a large variety of twigs, nuts, other plants, and so on. Like humans, deer are attracted to roses because of their fragrance.
So, whenever they are hungry, the scent lures them to consume the plant. And, you are left with a bush with messy twigs scattered around and a half-eaten bush.
Another interesting fact about deer is that they have a tough stomachs. As a result, they can consume and digest roses without issues.
The thorns are meant to protect the rose bushes from any kind of attack from their predators. But deer don’t have problem eating roses along with the thorns. However, you may think that they eat only the younger rose plants.
In reality, deer even eat the most mature rose bushes that have tough thorns. It means that if you leave your rose bushes unprotected, your plant might be at a greater risk. You need to take protective steps to make your plant safe from this animal.