What Kind of Grass Do Deer Eat?


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Whether you are interested in attracting more deer to your garden, or are keen on keeping them away, it is important to know what will attract them. For those of us who have had the opportunity to be around deer, we know they spend quite a bit of time with their heads down in the grass, seemingly eating the green goodness they find. But, what kind of grass do deer eat the most? 

Deer tend to eat very new or young grass, if at all. In fact, deer do not eat grass as much as you might think. The majority of deer won’t eat grass simply because it holds limited nutritional value, and they favor other wild food and vegetation.

Why are deer eating my grass (if they don’t like it)?

More often than not, deer may seem to eat grass, or to be grazing, when they are actually hunting for weeds. They prefer richer nutrition in plants that grow in long grass than the sharp, green blades themselves.

Deer may eat grass if they are extremely hungry – but it’s very unlikely they will come to your yard purely for the lawn. There will be fruit, twigs, weeds, and more that they are feasting on instead.

Why don’t deer prefer grass?

Grass isn’t the easiest vegetation for deer to digest, on the whole. They are very low on the nutrients deer need from day to day, which means their bodies are less adept than other animals’ at processing it. Deer digestion is curious – studies dating back decades have wildlife spotters fascinated!

What’s more, a deer that is weighed down by food it can’t digest is not going to find it easy to move quickly. The animal has evolved to enjoy more of the brown, woody textures the wild has to offer. They will also enjoy leaves and plant stems.

When a deer eats grass, it is normally a desperate move – and it will often be that which is particularly fresh, or within the succulent family. Deer cannot survive on grass – if at all – and need a good variety in their diets to survive.

What is a deer’s favorite food? 

Deer are not too picky when it comes to food, but above all else, they enjoy fresh, sweet produce. They particularly enjoy fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, and apples. Apples, in fact, are commonly used to help bait deer – both for hunting and photography purposes.

Deer will also happily munch on sweetcorn and soybeans, and they particularly love alfalfa, acorns, pecans, and hickory nuts. The great thing about acorns, in particular, is that if there are oak trees in the area, you will have a mess of free deer food.

Of course, if you wish to deter deer from your yard, an oak tree is going to be a big problem. Deer love these trees both for the nuts and for the cover – it’s one of the best trees for attracting deer season after season.

What grass do deer not eat? 

The vast majority of wild grass will likely have no impact on how a deer behaves. If you choose to rewild your lawn, it’s unlikely to deter these creatures, however, they simply won’t feed on the greenery.

However, there is some grass that deer will refuse to eat, even in hungry circumstances – grass such as miscanthus, panicum, carex, and hakonechloa macra are commonly used as deer deterrents for a reason!

Do whitetail deer eat grass? 

Whitetail deer will eat grass, however, it’s unlikely it will do so for long. Grass makes up less than 10% of the whitetail deer’s diet, meaning it is much more likely to hunt for other types of wild growth.

It’s not uncommon to see deer grazing in the wild – however, as mentioned, they’re likely sifting through the grass to get to weeds. If you want to start attracting deer without bait, it’s worthwhile letting plants grow in between your lawn to propagate freely.

Do deer eat grass or weeds? 

Deer certainly prefer eating weeds. In fact, deer mainly prefer plants with wide leaves that are high in protein and are easy to digest. These are generally referred to as forbs.

Deer prefer eating weeds and various forbs mainly thanks to the fact that they offer quick-release energy. This means that they are full of useful nutrition (protein in particular), that they can digest and use to run away from predators at a second’s notice. Many of the plants deer love are extremely easy to digest for this very reason.

Crude protein is regarded as critical to the deer’s everyday diet – meaning your yard will need to be full of it to keep these beautiful creatures coming back for more.

Removal of forbs can lead to deer malnutrition – meaning that if you want to attract deer to your yard, it makes sense to start letting those weeds wipe over your space. If you want to deter them, you already know the answer – time to get weeding!

About The Author
Robert has been an avid birdwatcher pretty much his entire life. Living in the suburbs he does his best to bring wild birds into his backyard. He currently has 13+ bird feeders in his yard and also raises and races homing pigeons. Robert writes part-time for Wild Yards, mostly about the subject he cares most about - birds.

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