What to Feed Deer in Backyard? +Why & Why Not 

 May 23, 2022

By  admin

Deer can be a nuisance in the backyard, but they are harmless animals that if fed regularly will usually leave you alone. If deer become too invasive to your yard and property, or if you just want them gone for good, here are some options on how to go about it.

The “is it illegal to feed deer in your yard” is a question that many people ask. It is not illegal, but it can be dangerous if you are feeding the wrong type of food.

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When you observe wild creatures wandering near your home, you can cease feeling overwhelmed by graciousness and beauty. Deer are one of the many creatures we like seeing up close, particularly in a patio or garden.


But, as unforgettable as it is, it isn’t something that happens very frequently. So, how can you make such an enlightenment happen more frequently?

We have a solution: find out what to feed deer in your backyard and give them a cause to approach you and, more importantly, return every day.

You’ll keep deer coming back if you understand about their feeding preferences and other important details. You may be able to get close to them after they’ve been acclimated to your home. But don’t hurry; first, understand what we have to say! Check it out!

A Quick Overview of Deer and Their Habits


Deer are brought in from all around the globe. Hundreds of these animal species may be found in China’s woods, as well as France’s, Germany’s, Spain’s, Russia’s, and other nations’ forests. Some deer species may be found even in Africa.

However, it’s probable that you’re reading from North America. If that’s the case, you’re probably seeking for information about the white-tailed deer, which is the most prevalent. Mule deer, a widespread species in the West, and white-tailed deer, a frequent species in the East, are two more common species.

They have comparable habits and behaviors in either case. You’ll find useful information here, regardless of the species in your region.

What is the average lifespan of a deer?

It depends on the species, their size, and the environment in which they live. They may, however, survive for up to ten years. Unlucky people may only survive 2 to 5 years before succumbing to sickness or hunting.

What is the exact location of deer?

Forests and plains are their favorite places to be. If your backyard resembles one of these, you’ll probably have an easier time getting them to come around. Deer, on the other hand, may be found almost everywhere, from deserts to agricultural regions, due to their adaptability.

Why Are There So Many Deer?

They’re one of the most versatile animals on the planet. Deer, on the other hand, have a distinct advantage over other animals in that they like to visit locations where people do.

As a result, deer may live in close proximity to people without generating problems. That’s why, particularly when they reside in the suburbs, we’re more inclined to befriend them.

How many deer do we have in the United States?

Deer had an easier time reproducing because people began cutting down forests and covered regions where predators such as wolves, bears, and mountain lions used to thrive. Eventually, the deer population began to increase at an exponential rate. In the United States alone, there are over 30 million deer.

Is the Deer Species Endangered?

There should be no question that this species is not endangered after learning that there are over 30 million deer in North America alone. When winter hits, however, deer in certain areas perish in large numbers.

This occurs because we humans seized their food supplies and shelter sites for the winter, resulting in hunger and cold-related mortality.  

Why Should You Feed Deer?


Now that you know more about how deer interact and thrive, let’s look at why feeding them is such a good idea – even in your own backyard. Here are five reasons to think about it:

The Adventure

Seeing a wild animal up close is always breathtaking, no matter what kind of animal it is. Deer are readily among them, particularly given their fearfulness. Having them about your house may relieve a lot of tension, make you smile, and completely improve your attitude.

Wildlife must be respected.

Having animals near by provides a window for learning more about nature, whether for you alone, your family, or even youngsters in the neighborhood. This may lead to a greater regard for animals in general, as well as wild species in particular.

Understanding Their Routines

You become close to someone you want to learn from when you want to learn from them. If you want to learn about animals, you should do the same. You can understand how they act and why they are the way they are simply by looking at them, which will increase your respect for them. If required, this might aid in population control.

Assist them in surviving

One primary reason to feed deer in your backyard is to Assist them in surviving. Even though deer seem to be thriving, they may not be. Especially in winter, when they’re often struck by climate issues and lack of food, you could give them exactly what they need by just filling some feeders at home.

Other Animals Should Be Present

Many predators, including bears, wolves, mountain lions, and even coyotes, feed on deer. Bringing deer around your backyard might be a terrific way to view some of them up close as well. Just keep an eye out. These predators may prey on your pets as well.

Why Shouldn’t You Feed Deer?


There are a variety of reasons to allow deer to approach your property. However, this might be risky and inappropriate for a variety of reasons. Here are a few examples:

They make a huge mess.

Deer are wild creatures. They don’t care about the plants in your yard or garden. They may swiftly consume all of your flower plants, ornamentals, and even crops if left unmanaged and unprotected. They may, in fact, leave their residues behind.

They are afflicted.

Lyme disease is one of the most dangerous infections on the planet. The deer tick is one of the most common sources. Allowing deer to get near to your property might introduce ticks, which can carry the illness. Mange, giardiasis, e. Coli, and possibly plague are among the other ailments. They have the potential to infect both people and pets.

Conflict Between Wild Animals

Deer, believe it or not, may be rather deadly when approached directly. They may attack if they feel threatened. This is particularly true for moms who are guarding their young or males who are becoming more aggressive during mating season. Deer may also be hazardous to pets and children.

Property Loss

Have you ever seen footage of deer smashing their way through windows and doors? It occurs much more often than you would believe. Deer, unlike cats and dogs, do not recognize glass or places to pass through. By attempting to get through or around the prettiest of cottages, they may rapidly turn it into a whole nightmare.


Deer, on the other hand, have little understanding of automobiles. They are the cause of millions of automobile accidents each year. Bringing them to an urban or suburban environment puts them in danger not just for themselves but also for other individuals who drive cars. 

What Does a Deer Eat in a Normal Situation?


Now that you have a better notion of whether or not feeding deer is a good idea, let’s talk about the food they normally consume. Here are some of the meals that deer eat in the wild:

Deer consume almost everything edible, as far as we know. They’ll consume everything, especially in regions and seasons when food is limited.

Deer are known to munch on trash cans and bags in metropolitan settings. They may even enter houses in quest of food in certain situations (which can be dangerous for several obvious reasons).

What Kinds of Plants Do Deer Prefer?


So, what should you feed your backyard deer? Why don’t I simply offer them everything I find since they eat nearly anything? There are a few reasons why this is not a good idea. But first, let’s go through what meals you should instead offer them:

Deer-friendly trees

Green twigs, bark, and leaves from a variety of trees are an important element of their diet. Deer are fond of the following species:

  • Apple
  • Cedar
  • Crabapple
  • Dogwood
  • Hawthorn
  • Oaks
  • Poison Ivy is a kind of poison ivy that grows on
  • Willow
  • Yew

While some of these species are harmful to humans, they are not harmful to deer’s digestive systems. You shouldn’t have any problems feeding them these.

Deer-Friendly Bushes and Shrubs

Hungry deer will also eat shrubs and tiny bushy plants such as the following:

  • Aucuba
  • Arborvitae
  • Blueberry
  • Azalea
  • Euonymus
  • Holly
  • Rhododendron
  • Roses
  • Tulips

Deer like plants that are in bloom. With these, you may draw them closer together. Otherwise, you may want to consider safeguarding them.

Herbs & Small Plants

Plants that don’t produce blooms or a lot of fruit are also part of a deer’s diet and might be good selections for your yard, such as:

You may grow almost any plant that people consume and expect deer to eat it. They may deplete a garden in a day if they are hungry.

What is the Healthiest Deer Food?


We’ve now gone through various meals that are excellent choices. What about the finest meals, though? What will provide them with the most benefit? Here are some possibilities to explore in such case:


Deer eat young trees and bushes with nutrient-rich leaves and stems because they are nutritious.  


They’re often referred to as mast, and they’re a high-quality component to a deer’s diet. Acorns, tiny fruits like blueberries, and nuts are all abundant in nutrients and assist deer maintain their carbohydrate stores.

Cereals Made from Natural Ingredients

Deer will consume anything that contains oats, wheat, or rye. These meals are very beneficial for deer due to their high carbohydrate and fiber content. Cereals might be difficult to stomach, therefore some deer will choose something else. 


Deer will eat everything from hulled peas to soybeans and even black-eyed peas. Deer are kept healthy for a long time due to the high protein and carbohydrate content of their diet. Surprisingly, they’re simple to consume.

Fruits & Vegetables

Deer will eat everything from apples to cherries, carrots, pears, plums, mulberries, grapes, and blackberries without hesitation. You may also offer them modest amounts of bananas and melons.

Mixes for deer food 

Finally, nothing beats a deer combination for nutrition. These feeds have been specially packaged for zoos and deer farms. Grain, molasses, oats, alfalfa, and soybeans are among them, and they include minerals, vitamins, and other nutrition that deer need. These are not only healthful and safe for deer, but they are also delectable.

What Food is the Worst for Deer?

Now that you’ve discovered out which meals are greatest for deer, it’s time to learn which things you should avoid. The following are the most prevalent and hazardous ones:


Deer have a well-developed digestive system. However, they are inexplicably incapable of digesting grain. Deer may get very ill or perhaps die as a result of the high carbohydrate and starch content of maize.

Fruits and vegetables that are acidic

Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, as well as vegetables such as chiles, artichokes, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and a variety of others, may all induce stomach problems. They are poorly digested by deer.

Foods Made in a Lab

Deer will be irritated by anything that includes sugar or artificial sweeteners. Similarly, foods containing too much yeast, such as bread or cake, may be hazardous. Cookies, sugary drinks, alcoholic beverages, and candies are also prohibited.

Most Commonly Asked Questions (FAQs)


Let’s learn a few more facts about deer now that we’ve covered practically everything there is to know about deer:

Will the deer take a long time to trust me?

All deer, especially humans, are terrified of other animals (we look like predators). As a result, it may take months for deer to trust you. They may never trust you (they won’t get close while you’re there) in certain circumstances.

Is it possible for deer to become aggressive? 

Yes, particularly during mating season. Males are always vying for territory, and this vying might include people. As a protective tactic, mother deer bearing fawns become rather hostile. When the fawns are under the age of ten weeks, their moms become very protective.

How can you keep deer off your lawn?

If you no longer want deer in your yard, the best answer is to construct a double fence (which they cannot leap over). That should enough.

Is it okay to give peanut butter to deer?

Peanut butter is a favorite of theirs. It is an unequaled enticing meal for hunters, thus they utilize it as bait.

What plants are deer-repellent?

Use daffodils, monkshood, poppies, and foxgloves to attempt to keep them away organically. Salvia, peonies, irises, and sage are some of the plants that may keep them away.


It won’t be simple to get deer to come into your yard to eat, but it’s quite doable if you know what they prefer.

It shouldn’t take long after you figure out what to feed deer in your backyard before they start showing up. All you have to do is remember to avoid risky meals, and you should be OK.

So, do you want to feed your local deer the tastiest meal they’ve ever had? Then take our advise and get started right now!

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The “inexpensive way to feed deer” is a question that has been asked many times. There are many reasons for feeding deer and some people would say no, but the “inexpensive way to feed deer” is an option for those who do not want to spend too much on their backyard deer.

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Emil Schoene

Born and raised in Austin, TX I come from a background of home renovation. By helping my family in my younger years with their construction business, I learned the ropes quickly and as I grew it became my passion that I still do today. Looking to share my knowledge with others. I invite you to leave comments on any post as I know you will have questions that you are not finding anywhere else.

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