Winter is a tough season, especially in places where it gets really cold, such as North America or Canada.
Food can be hard to find, and many deer die because of lack of food. So you might be tempted to feed deer to have enough to hunt during the hunting season.
However, this is not always a good idea, as this creates a dependency and can make the deer unable to forage for themselves. There are some things you can feed them, though, to have healthy deer during hunting season.
So if you want to know what deer eat in winter, what you can feed them, and what you shouldn’t feed them, as well as more information, read this quick response post.
What Can I Feed Wild Deer In The Winter?
The first question you might have about feeding deer is what you can feed wild deer in the winter.
You need to select plants that are both attractive to wild deer and that grow during winter. Typically, leaves and grapevines are easy to find during this cold season, and you can feed these to deer.
Corn is also very good for winter plots, as the deer can reach the corn cobs, even in snow. Nutritionally, feeding corn to wild deer is good for them as it has carbohydrates.
It doesn’t have enough protein, but it’s easy to find during the winter season. Too many carbs aren’t good for deer, so try to feed them protein-packed foods mostly.
Be careful, though, as high amounts of corn can actually kill wild deer, especially if they haven’t eaten in a long time. It’s even illegal in some regions.
Instead, we recommend keeping nuts and protein pellets in deer feeders or other commercial products specifically designed for deer.
You could also feed sugar beets, soybeans, cowpeas, or brassicas to wild deer in the winter. These are very high in protein and other nutrients that keep these animals healthy during this rough season. They’re also very common during the colder months.
Feeding deer a supplemental diet can help reduce the chances of diseases and give you healthy animals for the hunting season. Just keep in mind that this isn’t legal everywhere, so check the regulations before you feed wild deer.
Also, remember that feeding these animals is not always in their best interest, as it can make them weaker, reduce their activity, movement, and can actually decrease their chances of survival in the wild.
Most wild deer can find food for themselves, even if it’s buried under the snow. So keep yourself informed.
Do Deer Eat Apples In The Winter?
Yes, deer eat apples in the winter, especially towards the end of it. That’s because apples can be hard to digest for them.
However, you can put apples in a deer feeder, as they give great nutrition for deers, on top of being sweet and appetizing for them.
Deer can also find apples without human interventions, digging them out of snow. These are the apples that fall from trees during other seasons.
Do Deer Lose Weight During The Winter?
Yes, most deer lose weight during the winter. In fact, they can lose as much as 25% to 30% of their normal body weight.
That’s because it’s harder to find food in winter, and the available food isn’t always the most nutritious.
Deer need a lot of protein intake, which is really hard to get during winter, so they naturally lose a lot of weight. They burn more calories than what they consume.
You can help wild deer by leaving food in deer feeders like veg, fruit, soybeans, nuts, deer protein pellets, commercial deer food that’s high in protein, or even by planting food plots.
What Is The Calorie Consumption Of Deer During The Winter?
The calorie consumption of deer varies according to seasons and on the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) of the deer, which can depend on age and sex. The Summer BMR is usually higher than the winter one.
Deer tend to need 20,000 kilocalories per day, which is huge. Of course, this can vary, but you see how much food they need for survival. This depends on the BMR, growth, and voluntary activity of the deer.
Why Should You Avoid Feeding Deer?
In general, it’s not recommended that you feed wild deer for several reasons. Firstly, this creates a dependency, and some of them won’t be able to survive on their own anymore or forage for food themselves.
Not only does it decrease their chances for survival, but if you don’t feed them properly, wild deer are at a higher risk of catching diseases or even dying.
For example, chronic wasting disease is quite common for wild deer that receive food from humans during winter. So if you want to feed these animals and help them survive, don’t give them a lot of food.
If a deer doesn’t eat in a long time and then eats too much food, it can get really sick and easily die in one day.
Also, don’t leave food on the floor. Otherwise, toxins and other harmful agents can introduce themselves to the food.
To make sure you’re not harming deer, check your local legislation. If you’re allowed to feed these wild animals, it’s best to plant food plots to help your local deer population.
This way, they can forage for themselves, won’t rely on you, and their risk for catching diseases is very low.
While sometimes supplemental feeding for wild deer is useful to increase the animal population and improve their chances of survival, it’s often not recommended. It’s even banned in some regions.
We recommend you either leave these animals alone or that you plant food plots to help them forage for themselves if your local legislation allows it.
This way, you keep them healthy and strong for the hunting season, and there’s a reduced chance of transmitting diseases or killing them when you’re just trying to help.