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Do Deer Eat Sweet Potato Vine?

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gardener notes Gardeners Notes
Plant type: annuals
Deer resistant: no
Our plant hardiness zone:
New Zealand: subtropical
U.S. Zone 10b

Here's a short verdict: Compared to bell peppers and their leaves, our deer seem more enthusiastic about sweet potato vines, and if you offer them sweet potato vege they are very happy to indulge.

Now to unwrap...

Sweet potato vine is a plant that belongs to the morning glory family, and it's a popular plant for both decorative and edible purposes. But have you ever wondered if deer like to munch on sweet potato vines? Well, let's explore this topic and find out if deer do eat sweet potatoes.

First of all, let's address the concern of whether sweet potato vines are poisonous. While sweet potato leaves do contain some toxins, they're not harmful to humans and most animals when consumed in small amounts. However, excessive consumption can lead to digestive problems.

Do deer eat sweet potato vines?

Now, onto the question at hand - do deer eat sweet potato vines? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Deer are notorious for eating almost anything they can get their hooves on, and sweet potato vines are no exception. If you have a garden or farm that's frequented by deer, you might want to protect your sweet potato plants from being devoured.

Here's what some people are writing on forums:

"First year to try sweet potatoes and they were looking great, starting to bloom and I've sacrificed lots of space in my small garden just to taste a freshly dug potato. The deer have eaten every leaf on all the vines. I put a radio in the patch, guess that just provided mood music for a lovely evening meal!"

deer eating sweet potato vine

From the picture above you might notice that our vine is not only being eaten by deer but catepillars are having a feast. That's because we've just been playing with growing this plant, not caring for it much. There were these sprouted kumaras (that's what they're called in New Zealand) and we cut them into pieces and simply planted into the soil. Voila, we had vigorous plants.

Deer eating sweet potato vine: video

A short video demonstrating how a deer defoliates a sweet potato vine. Leaf by leaf. Stems are of little interest. Some deer like this vine a lot, others will just nibble a couple of leaves and walk away.

But, how can you keep deer from eating your sweet potato plants?

There are a few methods you can try, such as using deer-resistant plants to create a barrier around your sweet potato plants, or installing fencing around your garden. You can also try using deer repellent sprays or other deterrents to keep deer away. We've covered most sane and some dubious methods of keeping deer away in our post here.

If deer do eat your sweet potato plants, will they grow back?

The answer is yes, they usually will. Sweet potato plants have a unique ability to regrow even after being grazed upon. So, don't worry too much if your sweet potato plants have been nibbled on - they'll likely recover just fine.

Are Sweet Potatoes Good For Deer?

Sweet potatoes are actually a great source of nutrition for deer. They're high in carbohydrates, which provide deer with energy, and they're also rich in vitamins and minerals. Here is the approximate nutritional composition of sweet potatoes :

Nutrient Amount per 100 grams
Carbohydrates 20.12 g
Fiber 3 g
Protein 1.6 g
Fat 0.05 g
Vitamin A 14187 IU
Vitamin C 2.4 mg
Vitamin E 0.26 mg
Vitamin K 1.8 µg
Thiamine (B1) 0.078 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.061 mg
Niacin (B3) 0.557 mg
Pantothenic Acid (B5) 0.8 mg
Vitamin B6 0.209 mg
Folate (B9) 11 µg
Vitamin B12 0 µg
Calcium 30 mg
Iron 0.61 mg
Magnesium 25 mg
Phosphorus 47 mg
Potassium 337 mg
Sodium 55 mg
Zinc 0.3 mg

If you want to feed deer sweet potatoes, make sure to cut them into small pieces, you can even cook them first, as this will make it easier for deer to chew and digest.

In summary, while sweet potato vines may be a tasty treat for deer, there are ways to protect your sweet potato plants from being eaten. And if you want to feed deer sweet potatoes, it's a nutritious food source that they'll likely enjoy. Just remember to cut the sweet potatoes first and feed them in moderation. Happy gardening or deer feeding!

Last modified 2023-03-15 at 09:07

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Just found your WONDEEERFUL posts!

Our 3R (Rescue-Rehab-Release) 'fawn' , now 6mo old, doesn't seem interested in either sweet potatos nor carrots. Odd. She'll most certainly mow down the carrot greens, but doing so often pulls them up and leaves the 'bodies everywhere'. (Here in the mid-Atlantic, we often leave carrots in the soil to 'winter over' for harvesting in Jan/Feb when one wants to consume them.) I was hoping she'd be interested, in sweet potatos & carrots, but noooo., she wants those expensive blueberries!!

[As a youth, the DNR - Dept of Natural Resources- used to bring us truly abandoned fawns to our farm for 3R.
Now, 45 yrs later as an adult, I am surprised does often truly abandon, vs day hide, sickly little ones near (>100'!!) our home...many we can't save. Fortunately, this one is thriving!]

Having the blessing of acreage; being versed in livestock animal husbandry & veterinary practices, I find posts like yours essential learning as well as a joy!

Thank you for your VERY helpful posts!

Yeah, isn't it amazing about carrots, I've recently ammended our 'deer and carrots' post with exactly that: when offered carrots with greens still on, deer eat them first before the actual sweet, crunchy roots! But all our deer do eat carrots in the end.

Just remember they are cautious animals and often refuse something just because it's new to them (not blueberries, never seen a deer refuse berries in general) šŸ¦Œ. So your fawn might grow to like something later, especially if you just leave things lying on the ground, they might return later and take a small bite, then see how stomach agrees with that then it goes into their 'good books'. I've seen it many times, it's almost like they're testing if the thing might be poisonous.

Here's a fawn's reaction to simply smelling food she's never encountered:

fawn and food

It is sad about abandoning weak fawns, but I guess they have to, it's a huge investment for the mother to keep feeding the fawn, especially if resources are scarce. It's great you can save some of them! Have you done this before, have the fawns just left or do they keep coming 'home'? Because I'm guessing they can become attached to whoever feeds them and turn into pets. A few people here in new Zealand have deer as pets.

Thanks so much for your comment! Happy you're finding something useful and entertaining)) I'm still working on a free mailing list / website subscription ATM, if you'd like you can subscribe on Youtube meanwhile. 

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