What to Feed Deer in Backyard?


Seeing deer scrolling around in your backyard is heaven-like. This may happen if you are living in a countryside area close to the forest. Deer have a natural reaction to explore and find new places that are safe for them. They are also attracted to food and water resources.

If you see deer in your backyard, you may wonder, what to feed deer in backyard? Well, deer are ruminant mammals. They eat from the core of natural food assets. Mostly grass and leaves just like cows and goats. You can feed them and make them your neighbor. Moreover, they visit the backyard area for a few different reasons. They might surprise you. Do you often see deer in your backyard? If you do, then this article is for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Deer visit your backyard for a reason, they look for food, water, and a safe place to explore.
  • Feed them natural food like corn, acorns, hackberry, and apples. They also like grass and leaves.
  • Do not feed any manufactured or human food. They have a specific digestive system depending on their food habits.

Reasons Why Deer Visit Your Backyard

Reasons Why Deer Visit Your Backyard

You may see deer coming and roaming around your backyard. Maybe 1 or 2. Maybe the whole family. But why do they come to your backyard? You need to consider what things they are attracted to. There are few to identify.

First and foremost, deer are attracted to your backyard plants. They search and explore for their perennial favorite trees and shrubs. They are:

Also, deer are affectionate to some flower plants. If you have these delicious flower plants in your backyard, then you may see them every day. Those are:

  • Asters
  • Clover
  • Sunflowers
  • Verbena
  • Wild strawberry
  • Geraniums

Deer are also attracted to clean water sources. They drink more water than food. If you have a wonderful fountain with a waterfall, then deer are your regular visitors. Even if your backyard has a small pond, trench, half-full kiddie pool, or half-empty birdbath then deer will use it as a watering hole. Specifically, if this water source is safe and relatively far away from your home and yard.

Can You Feed a Deer in Your Backyard?

Now you know why deer came to your backyard, you may feel safe and want to adopt them as your regular visitors. Why so? Aren’t they cute and beautiful? You have to love them just by watching their eyes.

To admire deer as your pet or visitor, you need to treat them well. Now, there is a question. Can you feed a wild animal? According to Wildlife Animal Control, you should not feed or even go near a wild animal if it is murderous. Like a lion, tiger, hyena, or wolf. But you can go near and feed a deer. Deers are innocent aminal.

So, it is clear that feeding a deer or a whole family of deer is harmless. You can feed deer in your backyard. Even you can give them shelter on a stormy day. It is an act of expressing animal love and not against any law.

What to Feed Deer in Your Backyard?

Foods deer love

Deer loves to eat natural food like fruits and vegetables in general. They also like beans from several plants. They munch on greenery so well. But there are specific foods they like to eat even though they hardly get them.

Foods deer love

Deer like to browse which is the woody portion of leaves and stems, forbs as broad-leaved plants, and mast like acorns, apples, etc., and grass. They change the food course as the season changes.

Corn, acorns, hackberry, apples, kale, radish, and turnips are for fall.

In the springtime, they eat greenbriers, honeysuckles, grapevines, pears, and radishes. And blackberries, hackberry, and pears for the summer season.

But in the winter period, their food course is quite different.

Let’s see what to feed deer in winter

In winter season

Deer are also seasonal feeders. A large part of their nourishment becomes unavailable and very difficult to find during the winter season. This is the key reason why you will find deer casually strolling around your backyard. This is why knowing what to feed these beautiful wild animals becomes crucial.

Usually, deer eat grapevines and leaves in cold weather. When ruminant mammals get a large number of carbohydrates that are low in fiber, normally not found in their diet during the cold time of year, they want the microorganisms in their stomach to digest the food. In this case, you can feed them corn, acorns, and blackberry which may help them digest properly.

Foods Deer Love to Eat the Most

Foods Deer Love To Eat the Most

Of course, they have some of the most favorite foods that they like to eat compared to any other. Deer are particular herbivores. They are highly careful feeders of plant food categorized by low fiber but high protein content and digestibility.

As a ruminant mammal, deer like greenery foods from core natural resources. Any other mammals are attracted to this food category. But deer are a bit exceptional. They love to eat grasses, sedges, the leaves and shoots of trees, and other woody plants.

However, some foods are not suitable for deer. Even dangerous to feed them. Do you know what those are? Let’s discuss this.

Problems with Feeding Deer

Although deer can be fed from natural resources, there are some things you should not feed a deer.

Do you know? Deer are poly-ruminant, which means that they have four sections in their stomach. Still, they may not be able to digest everything they eat. Some food can form toxins in their stomach. Rhubarb and cucumber are not hygienic. Their leaves are toxic to deer.

Even so, there are lots of food that you can feed to your pet but not a wild animal. It is about regular eating habits.

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Can You Feed Manufactured Food?

Can You Feed Manufactured Food

As wild animals, deer are not habitual to eat any food other than natural food resources. If you ever try feeding them human food or pet cereals, you may innocently hurt animals. They might refuse to eat and ignore coming to your place.

Manufactured, processed, and GMO foods are not good for wildlife animals. Deer have a different digestive system and you should not look at feeding them like you would other animals. Please if you are going to feed deer, offer them food that won’t make them sick or potentially be the hand that feeds them to their deathbed.

How to Properly Feed Deer?

To feed a deer, you should keep calm and friendly. There are certain things you have to maintain:

  • Try introducing yourself. Do not approach to touch them at first. They will get scared and run away.
  • Do not use any offensive movement or object near them.
  • Use your right hand and introduce food that you want to feed them.
  • Keep your hand steady and do not push it towards them.
  • Make them come close to you and take food from your hand as they feel safe with your actions.
  • Or you can try putting the food in a bowl and keep it. There will be no interactions.

In this way, they will feel totally safe and they will make it their home.


1. Are deer good to have around?

At first glance, deer may look cute and unthreatening. But these creatures can cause severe damage to your landscape plants, shrubs, and trees, and also carry injurious diseases. Using deer repellent keeps deer away from your yard and drives them back into the forest where they belong.

2. Why is a deer hanging around my house?

9 out of 10 times, deer show up on your property for the plants in your landscape. And while deer can and will eat every plate and leaf, they favor plants that offer something else besides foliage. That can be twigs, berries, seeds, fruits, or flowers.

3. Will deer come back if they see you?

Frightened deer will return to their comforter area. But when they return depends on how much the disturbance frightened them. If they are not able to pinpoint the threat, they will expect a return sooner than if they saw or smelled you. You can maintain your impact on a deer by studying its body language.

Final Thoughts

Deer are innocent and harmless animals. They look cute and beautiful. You might want to have one when you see them in your backyard. There are plenty of reasons why deer come to your backyard. They look for food and water sources.

To feed deer in your backyard, you should be sure to give them nutritious food that is also delicious. Many well-intentioned people put out food for local mobs of deer that the deer turn to during the lack of food sources in the cold weather. To them, it is like the worst kind of food can be more harmful than no food at all. Do not give them any manufactured or processed food. Act harmless when you approach to feed them. Feed them natural food from the core. Keep a friendly gesture.

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I am Donald M. Beyer and I am backyard enthusiasts. I am a homeowner who has been doing DIY projects in and out of my house for many years. From simple backyard lunches to making an old-school pizza oven in my own backyard, I have a lot of experience in turning my backyard into my and my family’s personal playground.

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