do deer eat hay

Do Deer Eat Hay?

Written by: Gemmali Dizor

The quick answer is that yes, deer eat Hay, but it’s necessarily an integral element in their food. If you’re interested in finding out what hay is and how it is incorporated into their diet, then read on.

Understanding the Diet of Deer

Deer are herbivores. This means they are primarily vegetarians. Their diets can differ based on the season as well as the location they live in, as well as the species of deer they are. In general, deer eat an assortment of plants, grasses, leaves, and even fruits. In winter in which their favorite foods might be in short supply, they could use woody stems or bark of trees to complement their diet.

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Deer and Hay

Hay is usually made of dried legumes or grasses and is commonly used as feed for animals such as horses and cows. Although deer aren’t usually pets, they may and do consume some hay when they are in certain circumstances.

In the case of deer’s primary sources of food are limited and it is unable to find food, it might turn to hay as a substitute. This could happen during the winter months when there is a blanket of snow which makes it impossible for the deer to reach their preferred plants. In certain regions, conservationists and farmers may also provide hay as an alternative source of food for deer in times of food shortage.

It’s important to remember that deer are selective eaters, and might be unable to find hay quite as attractive as other plants. If there are other sources of food readily available, they may decide to eschew hay entirely. In addition, hay isn’t the only food source available to deer and should be considered as a supplement to their diet.

Potential Risks of Feeding Deer Hay

While it’s feasible for deer to be fed hay there are a few potential dangers to take into consideration. In the first place, feeding animals is usually not recommended because it could disrupt natural food sources and change their behavior. Feeding deer in particular could increase the likelihood of spreading disease among animals and can lead to the overpopulation of certain regions.

If you decide to feed deer with hay, it’s crucial to do so in a responsible manner. You should only provide hay as a supplement to their diet and do not feed them in large amounts or using hay as their main food source. It is also essential to observe the deer’s behavior and alter the way they eat.

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Alternatives to Feeding Deer Hay

If you’re looking to provide the deer with supplementary food there are options other than giving them hay. For instance, you can create a wildlife-friendly garden using species that are known to be attractive to deer, including alfalfa, clover, and soybeans. It is also possible to offer fresh water sources, especially in regions where water is scarce.

A different option would be to set up the concept of food plots. These are tiny spaces of land that are specifically filled with vegetation that is appealing to deer. This will ensure that deer have access to diverse foods throughout the year, and could aid in reducing their dependence on hay or other food sources.


While deer may consume hay, it’s not always a major portion of their food. When they’re in the wild, they usually consume a variety of shrubs, grass leaves, and fruit. However, when their food sources of choice are limited, deer might resort to hay as a substitute. If you’re considering offering deer supplementary food sources It is essential to take your time and avoid using the hay as their primary source of food. Instead, think about alternatives such as creating a wildlife-friendly garden or making food plots so that deer have access to various foods all throughout the entire year.

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