What to Feed Deer in a Backyard?

Do you think you just saw Bambi out in your backyard? Check again because your eyes are probably not lying! Of all the animals that can venture into your backyard, deer can be a common sight, especially if your backyard is full of foliage that deer easily get attracted to. Alternatively, your experience may not have been as cute and what you saw was a huge stag with magnificent antlers.

In either case, deer visiting your backyard should not be alarming as they are mostly harmless, especially if you stay away. In fact, if you want them to keep coming, you may have to think about what to feed deer in a backyard to befriend them, and thankfully there is a long list to choose from.

Is it okay to feed deer in my backyard?

We have included this section exclusively to convince any concerned family members in the house (including yourself) that feeding deer in your backyard will not be a bad idea. In fact, it is absolutely okay!

What to Feed Deer in a Backyard?

As long as you know what to feed them, feeding deer is encouraged, especially in the winter season when their natural food sources are scarce. Sometimes, that is the main reason they are heading to your backyard in the first place.

However, this is not like petting a cat or dog. You must remember that deer are wild creatures, and feeding or attracting them will require special treatment and consideration. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Practice commitment:feeding deer in your backyard cannot be a one-time thing. If you feed them once or twice, they will be coming back for more. You must continue to feed them at least until springtime, when they are able to find food on their own.
  • Check affordability:even a small deer can eat up to 5 pounds of food a day, and deer feed is expensive, to say the least – before you decide to befriend your deer friend, make sure you will be able to afford this friendship.
  • Human food is a no:if you were planning to give away some leftovers, we are sorry to break it to you, but deer are more high maintenance, and food scraps won’t cut it as they can adversely affect the deer’s health.
  • Never concentrate deer feed in one area:this attracts predators, and you certainly do not want a tiger coming over to your backyard next.
  • Maintain distance:keep the deer feed as far as possible, particularly away from the road (if there is any near your backyard), to avoid accidents.

What to feed deer in your backyard?

Once you have taken care of all the pre-requisites and are completely satisfied, there is a whole range of items you can choose from to feed deer. Let’s have a look at them.

1. Browse

This is a deer’s favorite thing to eat. They fall under the category of Concentrate Selectors, which means they eat selective parts of trees – often stems and leaves which are more succulent. Browse also simply means leaves and stems of trees and shrubs so, if you have any trees in your backyard, let the deer feed upon those. You can also consider planting some for the next season.

2. Mast

This is the second most essential component of a deer’s diet. Mast is the combination of fruits and nuts that are packed with energy to help deer grow and survive winter. We have listed below which fruits and nuts are perfect for feeding deer in your backyard.

3. Berries and Plums (spring/ summer)

Grapes, plums, mulberries, and blackberries are ideal fruits to feed deer in the summer or spring seasons as these are packed with nutrients that help them grow – especially for stags and bucks when they are growing their antlers.

4. Apples and Pears (fall)

Toward the fall season or even in winter, feed deer pears and apples as these give them the fat and energy store for lower temperatures. If you know the place, the deer frequents, spread some of these fruits in that area – never concentrate the feed in one place.

5. Chestnuts and Acorns

Do not experiment with other nuts as they can be harmful to the deer. Chestnuts and acorns are the best and most important nuts to feed deer, and of these two, they will still prefer chestnuts. That is because these have lesser amounts of ‘tannin’, which slows down a deer’s digestion process.

6. Legumes

Purple hulled peas, soybeans, and black-eyed peas make for great deer feed, not only because deer love eating these but also because they can be digested easily by the deer. The only problem is that these are more expensive than average deer feed, so you may want to check if you can afford them.

7. Oats

You can grow oats in your backyard if you want the deer to keep coming back. These are pocket-friendly options for feeding deer in your backyard. They are also supplemental to deer’s growth as they have the perfect balance of carbohydrates and fibers.

8. Deer Feed Pellets

Finally, you can skip all the other options and directly buy a deer feed seed mix. They are easily available but maybe a little pricey in the long term. They usually contain a balance of all the nutrients deer need and come in the form of small pellets.

Our Final Thoughts

Feeding deer in your backyard can be a fun activity if done with care and caution. As long as you take care of the abovementioned points, attracting deer to your backyard can be easy with the right type of food items. Just make sure to spread the deer feed out and place it as far from your residence as possible because, at the end of the day, deer are wild and prey animals. You do not want your gesture of kindness and affection to cause problems for you or the deer.