Do Deer Eat Soybeans?

do-deer-eat-soybeans

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Soybeans are fantastic sources of protein and all kinds of nutrients that are beneficial to both humans and animals. They are so beneficial that many people find it difficult to keep their soybeans safe from wildlife. On the other hand, others use their benefits to attract more wildlife to their gardens. Given this, you may be wondering – do deer eat soybeans?

Deer love soybeans and they’re also highly nutritious for their diets. They are easy to digest, grow wildly across the states, and are great for helping local ruminants feel fuller for longer. They can also help to attract deer to your yard.

Should I grow soybeans for deer? 

Soybeans make for perfect deer feed, and you’ll be helping your local wildlife. They are especially high in protein, which is ideal for both the developing calf and for deer who need a quick energy fix to help them get away from predators.

However, soybeans can be difficult to maintain, and once the deer notice ripe beans are growing in your yard, they will potentially destroy all your available crops. 

Soybeans are great for attracting more than a few deer at once – so, unless you have enough land and a constant mess of soybeans to keep them all satisfied, it may be difficult for you to catch up. 

If you happen to plant other greens, fruits, and vegetables for deer on your food plot, then why not add a few soybeans here and there? It may be more beneficial to offer banana, watermelon, celery, sweet potato, and acorns – alongside a handful of soybeans – instead of growing it outright. Deer will happily feast on all of these snacks, and they can provide beneficial nutrients.

Do deer prefer soybeans or corn? 

Despite the deer’s fondness for corn, they will nearly always choose soybeans. Soybeans are far easier for them to digest, and the smell is far more attractive to them – this is especially the case if they are roasted. 

Deer enjoy corn almost as much as soybeans – however, it is not considered a healthy food source, and may prove harmful to ruminant diets. Deer will, however, eat it if they have access to it, especially when there is not much food around.

Will deer eat raw soybeans? 

Deer will readily eat raw soybeans, and in fact, they are likely to attract immense interest from local wildlife. Therefore, if you are growing your crop to harvest later, you may wish to either protect it directly or to grow closer to your home (and away from a wild clearing).

Of course, deer will be more likely to head for your soybeans if your yard is welcoming enough. Be sure to provide cover with trees deer love, such as oaks that produce acorns. Do also place any feeding plots close to the far edge of your yard, away from your house. 

Check that your state allows you to feed deer within the law, and make sure to leave beans out during warmer months. It’s safer and easier to feed deer in the summertime as their diets change hugely by the winter. This is because they are ruminants – and their metabolism and digestive patterns change drastically across the seasons.

Will deer eat soybeans from a feeder? 

Deer will eat soybeans from a feeder providing they feel safe enough to do so – any threat of human contact will trigger a fight or flight response. To feel safe enough to stop to eat, deer need to feel as though they are well-hidden (by tall grass, trees, piles of branches, bushes, etc.). 

If your feeder is in an open field or space, for example, then it is less likely that deer will come out to eat from it, especially during the day. 

Therefore, if your goal is to help supplement their food, then it is best to put the feeder in an area where the deer will feel safe – i.e. under cover of a natural canopy. It is widely recommended to set up open feeding plots to let deer find their snacks naturally.

How do I protect my soybeans from deer? 

While some will suggest using deer repellents such as sprays and chemicals, these can harm your crops, not to mention other wildlife in the vicinity. Instead, opt for physical barriers. 

Some note that building walls and opaque fences around crops can help to keep them safe. Of course, for them to properly deter the deer, you should ideally set your perimeters up at around seven to eight feet tall. These can be at the edge of your yard or surrounding specific crops. Farmers also invest in electric fences to protect attractive crops from deer, but these can be expensive – and many feel they are cruel.

You could also rely a little more on technology. Infrared lights and speakers work very well at deterring all kinds of wildlife – as do wind chimes, believe it or not! Deer will flee at sudden noises. Be aware that if you do wish to welcome deer back in the future, you’ll need to take the chimes down!

About author
Graham Pierrepoint is an avid wild gardener, spending much of his spare time creating exciting spaces for local birds, bugs, and other beasties to explore! He writes regularly for Wild Yards to help share his years of flora and fauna expertise with other birdwatchers and horticulturists.

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