What Do Deer Eat In The Winter

Deer Eat In The Winter

Winter is the hardest season of the year especially for deer. Whilst humans can access their food easily, this is not the case for deer.  They usually graze for their food however, during winter most of their usual food sources disappear which takes a terrible toll on their diet as well as nutrition.  Below we discuss some of the most common foods that deer eats in the winter.

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What do deer eat in winter?

Woody browse

NB: this is actually the healthiest and safest food to feed a deer in the winter.

Deer eat woody browse in the winter. Woody browse consists mainly of twigs, buds and leaves. Feeding deer woody browse is the best option as it can easily be digested in their system. Some of the common woody browse that deer take up include grape vines, oak, elm and hackberry. So if you have any of these you can feed them to your deer.


Mast is the fruit that comes from plants like apples, acorns, pears and berries. Although mast is a seasonal food, deer can eat it during winter time. Mast is very high in carbohydrates and fats which makes it good food for your deer.


NB: corn is high in carbohydrates and has the risk of causing Rumen acidosis in deer.

Corn is also another food alternative for deer in the winter. It is high in calories therefore, it is not recommended to feed deer corn all the time as it has potential of causing harm to the deer. Rumen acidosis is one of the common disease that deer can get if they consume food that has too much carbohydrates.

Brassica blend

Brassica blend is lush forge from the mustard family which has several varieties including rape, kale, turnip, radish, canola, cabbage and cauliflower.  Rape is the best brassica blend to feed deer in the winter time mainly because it is readily available during the time. Therefore, if you are planning on feeding deer in your area then consider getting brassica blends like rape.

Problems with feeding deer in winter

Although feeding a deer in winter might seem like a noble gesture, there are actually some problems you will encounter. Firstly you should know that a deer should not be feed on a regular basis. This is because deer have different diets as compared to humans and too many carbohydrates can make them die.  Furthermore, try by all means not to treat a deer as a pet, this is because they spread parasites and diseases to human beings. So just be careful not to catch anything from the deer you plan on feeding. The last problem that you need to be cognisant of is that it might be illegal to feed deer in your state. So always make sure you check the laws before feeding the deer in your state, you could actually get fined for that.

Is it legal to feed deer?

Different states have different laws and regulations regarding the topic at hand.  However, most of these rules are centred on people who like hunting and keeping herds of deer. Some states prohibit people from feeding the deer in their areas, so before embarking on a noble gesture of feeding the deer, just check if that’s legal in your state. You also need to check if your state allows you to feed deer for hunting purposes. This is because some states prohibit people from hunting deer. Therefore, always check the laws and regulations in your state before feeding a deer.

 How to feed deer during winter

A deer has a sensitive gut system and too many carbohydrates and fats can cause it to die, which is why it can be hard to feed deer in winter considering most of the available food sources are rich in carbohydrates. If you plan on feeding a deer in winter, make sure that you introduce the new food in small quantities. This helps to ensure that the gut system of the deer adapts to the new food. This in turn reduces the risk of your deer succumbing to rumen acidosis.

Supplement feeding tips

If you are planning on starting a supplement feeding program for your deer during the winter time, then you can start by placing a feeder near or next to the food plot. This helps to create an attractive food source for the deer.  Also ensure that there is a water source nearby so that the deer can easily access water.  You can also create a shelter for the deer, this will help to ensure that they keep warm during the winter time.  These supplement feeding tips will help to ensure that deer stay healthy and warm during the winter time. Furthermore, if you are doing this for hunting purposes then you are guaranteed that a number of deer will flock to your property.

What do deer eat in the summer?

During the summer time, deer have a lot of foods to choose from. They usually eat fruits like sumac, maple, aspen, strawberries and raspberries which they can easily pick up from the ground. Other fruits that they usually consume include apples and pears and these are very rich in carbohydrates.  They also snack on grains like corn, soybeans, wheat and oats. Therefore, if you are planning on feeding a deer during the summer time you can always give it any of the foods listed above.

What times do deer usually eat?

Deer usually eat at dawn or dusk but, they can also move around during the day times especially when they are sure that predators are not around.


Winter time is the toughest season for deer however, you can always make it better for them if you feed them. Remember to check the laws and regulations in your state to see whether feeding deer is acceptable. Deer are also supper spreaders of diseases and parasites so make sure that you do not treat them as pets. Always make sure that you deed them from a distance so as to protect yourself.