We've asked our deer that question and they replied: "Of course!"
An apple a day keeps deer very happy indeed. This doesn't rhyme but fact is, deer love apples. 🍎
In this post we answer the questions:
They are a good treat for them. But as a diet these fruits are not a healthy standalone choice, especially not in winter. During winter months, deers digestive system adjusts to running on lichens, woody browse, barks and dried leaves.
If a deer suddenly consumes apples in large amounts, the change in diet will alter the pH of the digestive tract leading to acidosis.
It could take up to 3, sometimes 4 weeks for deer to adapt to a new diet, so apples must be introduced in small amounts.
Apples, even though not suitable as main part of the diet, contain healthy nutrients and are beneficial to these animals when consumed in right amounts at the right time. Apples are source of antioxidants, carbohydrates, pectin fibler, potassium.
Yes, deer can eat apples whole. Of course, that makes it a bit of a mission so if you have a chance cut them at least in half, they'll appreciate that.
Deer don't mind green, ripe, fresh or rotten apples. Bruised, old fruits may even be easier for them to chew. Easiest, of course, if cut in sizable chunks. Old apples can become fermented, so deer can actually get drunk eating too much of them. 😮
Properly washed, apples you purchase in your supermarket are safe to feed to deer. Unwashed, these fruits can often contain a layer of preservatives or residues of other chemicals used in the growing process. We've not yet found an apple deer won't eat. They seem to equally enjoy granny smith, royal gala, pink lady, ambrosia varieties.
Spread the fruits well on the ground. If the feed is concentrated in one spot, only a couple of dominant bucks are likely to claim it. They'll stand there eating the pile until they feel sick, and not share with the rest of the herd. So make sure these treats are spread around a larger area, perhaps a few fruits per square meter, if possible.
Sometimes you hear this term thrown around and you start wondering, what does it mean? Is it a particular type of apples or is that a commercial product formulated for feeding deer, sort of like 'deer nuts'?
Well, turns out this term has two meanings:
Deer hunters have been using apples to attract deer to their desired location for a while. They sometimes employ a mixture of apples and peanut butter (yep, deer eat that too) as bait. Keep in mind, apples can also attract fox and raccoons. On the plus side, apples take longer to eat and may keep the deer distracted for longer, if you are in wait.
In conclusion. Deer can eat apples and do in nature, if they can access them. However it never represents a significant part of their diet nor can provide most essential nutrients deer need to thrive. Apples are a treat or a bait. Those looking to help deer in the winter by offering alternative food sources should be careful feeding out these fruits and introduce them gradually over 4 weeks period.
Wondering what other food deer might like to eat?
Read our overview post 'What do deer eat'.
Do you still have questions regarding 🍎 feeding deer apples? Feel free to ask in the comments below ad we'll do our best to answer.
Last modified 2022-10-31 at 09:31