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Do Deer Eat Apples? Deer Farmers Advice.

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🦌 Babushka #168

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 the simple fact is, deer love apples. 🍎

Why do deer enjoy apples? Probably because they're sweet and juicy. Well, deer will eat even a sour fruit but no doubt they prefer a sweeter kind. Some of our deer seem to be preferring apples to carrots every time, others may have a preference for carrots over apples. Tastes differ.

Deer eating apple (video)

Watch and listen to our deer crunching on some apple chunks in the following video:

In this post we answer the following questions:

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Are apples good for deer?

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.

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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.

Can deer eat apples whole?

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.

can deer eat apples

You can cut apples in chunks, or into chips (disks). We find one apple cut horizontally into 3 or 4 chips works great for deer as they're able to position that size easily between their back teeth.

doe tasting cut apple chips

Will deer eat old apples?

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. 😮

drunk deer

Can I feed deer store bought apples?

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.

How should I lay out the bag of apples I bought for deer?

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.

What are "deer apples"?

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:

  • fruits from apple trees, known to grow in the wild, uncultivated
  • lower-quality apples with bruises, insects, damage, or those too tart or sour to be sold to the public

Using apples to attract deer

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, like carrots, take longer to eat and may keep the deer distracted for longer, if you are in wait.

Doe chewing an apple

Another one of our does happily munching on half an apple, slobbering.

In conclusion. Yes, deer can eat apples and do in nature, if they can access them. However they never represent a significant part of their diet nor can these fruits provide most essential nutrients deer need to thrive. Apples are a supplement, 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 food deer normally 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 26 December 2023 at 16:39

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I was wondering if deer eat oranges. I have some old oranges in my refrigerator and it is the month of January. I was wondering if I could put them outside for the deer. Any thoughts?
I was also wondering, your response to not feeding deer too many apples at one time. I have a bag of about 6 to 8 cut up apples, and I was wondering if that is too many to put out. I was planning on scattering them in the woods behind my house and in the front of my house. Is that considered too many?

Hi Katiebell, thanks for the question. Sure, old oranges sound good, especially if you cut them in halves or smaller chunks.

I've no idea what size deer population you got by your house. That'd likely be too many for 1 or 2, could still be too many for 4 animals, depends how much regular food they had to eat that day. You could feed that within two days to be on the safer side. That concerns oranges as well. Any food deer don't typically consume they shouldn't suddenly eat a lot of at once.


I have another question, he said, dear like peanut butter, should I just put a couple big spoonfuls in with the bag of apples I have and mix them up?

You could put a bit of peanut butter on apples. In moderation, again, because deer in winter are not well attuned to eating variety of foods.


Over the last three days I have fed a deer approximately 2 1/2 apples. She just passed away in our front lawn. Am i responsible for her dying? My heart is broken.

Sorry to hear that! I don't think there's any chance you could've killed a healthy deer in spring time with 2 apples. Deer die of multitude of causes including old age. I'm sure she enjoyed those apples on her last days.

If you're in US be careful interacting with deer who display no fear of humans https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-13367149/zombie-deer-disease-spread-hunters-die-meat-consumption.html

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