Will Deer Eat Sweet Food?

Will Deer Eat Sweet Food

Deer are herbivores, meaning that they survive solely on plant matter. Typically, they become more active at night, although you can also see them during the day. They spend the majority of their time browsing for vegetation and eating a wide variety of foods consisting of leaves, twigs, fruits, and nuts. They are known to have a sweet tooth and are attracted to plants with high sugar content. This includes fruits such as apples, pears, and berries.

Deer have a keen sense of smell and can detect sweet-smelling foods from a distance. They are also opportunistic eaters and will consume anything available in their habitat. However, it is important to note that deer have a delicate digestive system and cannot digest processed foods or sugary treats like chocolate, candy, or cake.

However, when it comes to sweet foods, there is some debate about whether “Will Deer eat Sweet Food” or not. In this article, I will help you to explore the pros and cons of feeding sweet food to deer.

Key Takeaways

  • Baked goods, such as cookies and cakes, can also be attractive to deer, especially if they are sweetened with sugar or honey.
  • Sweet foods can provide a quick energy boost for the deer and maybe a more attractive food source than vegetation
  • Sweetened feed, such as molasses or corn syrup, is another type of sweet food that deer may consume.
  • Deer will go for a fallen apple whether it’s ripe or not, especially during the winter months when food is scarce.

Will Deer Eat Sweet Foods?

The short answer is yes; deer will eat sweet foods! However, their preference for sweet foods is not as strong as their preference for vegetation. In the wild, deer are attracted to sweet-smelling plants, such as clovers, alfalfa, and dandelions, which contain sugars.

In areas where food is scarce, deer may also be attracted to sweet human-made foods, such as fruits and baked goods, that are left outside or in gardens. In these cases, the deer may be attracted to the sweet scent of the food, rather than the actual sweetness of the food itself.

What Types of Sweet Foods will Deer Eat?

Deer will eat a variety of sweet foods, including fruits, baked goods, and even sweetened feed. Some of the most common fruits that deer will eat include apples, pears, plums, and grapes. These fruits are high in natural sugars and are a good source of energy for deer. The world of deer feed manufacturing is not very competitive, and since all sweet feed is, at its core, made of the same ingredients, the sweet feed will do.

It is important to note that feeding deer sweetened feed should be done in moderation as it can be harmful to their health in large quantities.

What types of sweet foods Will deer eat
What types of sweet foods Will deer eat

So let’s look at some sweet foods and a deer’s fondness for them:

  • Brown Sugar: The fondness of brown sugar may vary from deer to deer. Some deer may enjoy the taste of brown sugar, while others may find it too sweet for them. Deers love the taste of brown sugar and often come to areas where it is present in order to enjoy a sweet treat.
  • Chocolate: Many species of hungry animals (particularly hungry wild animals) will go outside of their regular diet to eat. When food becomes scarce, animals can eat things they’re unfamiliar with- such as human food. Deer includes deer. They like to eat chocolate but it is really harmful to them. It is toxic to most animals because of the cocoa within the chocolate, which contains a chemical called theobromine.
  • Honey: Deer are not typically known to be fond of honey as it is not a natural part of their diet. But the sweetness and protein of honey are irresistible to them. If they come across the sweet smell and taste of honey, they may consume it. You should not feed deer, honey, every day, but it definitely makes for a good deer lure or an occasional treat.
  • Peanut Butter: Deer love to eat peanut butter. You can use peanut butter alone or in a mixture to feed deer and treat them with sweets. Peanut butter is much cheaper than other commercial sweet food to feed deer, not to mention safe as nuts are part of their diet.
  • Candy: Deer also like to eat candy as a sweet treat. Candy does not contain chocolate or more specifically theobromine. What candies mainly is sugar – something that deer find irresistible. But sugar is high in carbs, and a deer’s system can’t process that correctly.
  • Bread: Bread can be eaten by deer but it will be dangerous for deer as it contains corn. A small amount of white bread cannot do any harm, but if a single deer were to eat anything more than a few slices of bread there is always the potential for life-threatening lactic acidosis.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Deer love to eat sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are high in fiber even if they are raw or cooked. They are sweet in taste and are packed full of carbohydrates which can give deer long-lasting energy and the feeling of being satiated. They will eat them raw, directly from the vine – and will even eat the vine if they are hungry enough!
  • Apples: Waste apples are palatable to deer and contain ample calories, but are not a healthy stand-alone diet. Fruits and spuds are high in water and too low in protein and fiber for them in the winter. If deer cannot access high-quality natural forages around your feeder, they will not thrive.
  • Peanuts: Shelled or not, deer can eat peanuts. Nuts are one of their favorite food sources. So, deer will eat pecans, acorns, beechnuts, hickory nuts, and lots more. Peanut vines are an excellent source of protein for them too.
  • Sugar Beets: Deer like to eat sweet beets as much as they like to eat corn. The white-colored roots are very attractive to deer. It contains 13-22 percent of sucrose. Sugar beets are highly digestible and provide a protein content of about 10 percent to deer. Deer like to forage on the top of sugar beets.
  • Maple Syrup: The concentrated scent of maple syrup or vanilla or apple juice mixed with hay can lure the deer very much. They forage into it. The sweet smell of maple syrup will surely attract deer because they can smell it from really far away.
  • Raisins: Wild raisins can provide enough nutrition for deer during winter when food is scarce for them. But raisins offer a high level of sugars over 72 percent with small amounts of fiber and protein which can cause a numerous number of problems for deer.
  • Bananas and Tomatoes: Deer will eat bananas. It can provide deer with plenty of potassium and fiber but does not offer deer much more than that. Bananas are best used as an occasional treat for the deer herd. Deer also love to eat tomatoes. Along with it, other vegetables in your garden such as strawberries, sweet corn, and raspberries might be at risk.
  • Marshmallow: Deer will eat anything. So they can eat the marshmallow. They will eat most sweets, but it breaks down the amino acids in their digestive tract and inhibits their ability to digest properly.
  • Horse Sweet Feed: Horse sweet feed is not a good substitute for deer. The biggest reason for this is simply that horse feed is made specifically for the dietary requirements of a horse. Horses have different digestive tracts and production goals, which is why they have feed made specifically for them.

Is Sweet Food Safe for Deer?

Is sweet food safe for deer
Is sweet food safe for deer

Deer in the wild eat a wide variety of foods such as grass, weeds, nuts, and fruits. These foods provide a diverse selection of proteins, minerals, and carbohydrates, all of which are needed for optimal growth and health. Some research suggests that deer need roughly 16% of protein content for healthy development.

Corn is incredibly cheap, and that is why the sweet feed is generally made of corn, oats, and molasses. Corn and oats are both high in carbohydrates. Corn is low in protein and lacks other nutrients and minerals. Regular corn feed has about 8% or 9% of protein, so only about half of what deer actually need. A regular sweet feed diet will not give them the vital and diverse nutrients they need. It can lead to poor antler growth and health.

Do not use sweet feed in a large amount and daily basis for deer! It can cause lactic acidosis in their system and it changes the pH levels in their rumen. A deer’s pH level has to stay at a neutral 7.0 and feeding deer sweet feeds is not recommended. Also when the pH is changed it kills enzymes and bacteria deer need to break down and start digestion of their food sources.

Sweet Food to Bait Deer

Sweet food to bait deer
Sweet food to bait deer

Using sweet feed as bait to attract deer is a common practice among hunters. Sweet feed is a type of livestock feed that is high in sugar and typically contains grains, such as corn and oats. It can be effective in luring deer to a specific location, but it is important to check local regulations before using it as bait, as it may be illegal in some areas. Additionally, using bait to attract deer can increase the risk of spreading diseases among deer populations, so it is important to follow best practices for baiting, such as using a feeder that keeps the feed off the ground and cleaning the area regularly.


What is theobromine?

Theobromine is a chemical that is found in cocoa, which is the main ingredient in chocolate. Theobromine can be found in cocoa, the leaves of the tea plant, and the kola nut

How much sweet feed is necessary for deer?

When it comes to feeding deer sweet feed, it is important to remember that they should only be given the recommended amount each day. This is typically around one to two cups of sweet feed per day, depending on the size and age of the deer.

Will deer eat sweet feed pellets?

Actually, except during the rut, deer are often very communal. Commercial deer feeds are available. Other things to feed are hay, apples, corn, horse or dairy sweet feed, pellets, or cubes. Food plots for deer forage can be a variety of plants like clover, corn, soybeans, and alfalfa.

When do deer eat sweet potatoes?

Deer will mostly eat sweet potatoes in late spring, summer, and early autumn, but they will not hesitate to eat them year-round if other food sources are depleted.

Will grape Kool Aid attract deer?

Grape Kool aid or Strawberry Koo laid attracts more hogs to my corn pile than deer though. We just add some vanilla or peanuts to the corn and the deer really go for it.

Final Thoughts

Deer are herbivores and primarily feed on vegetation such as grasses, leaves, and twigs. Sweet feed, which is a type of feed commonly used for livestock, is not typically recommended for deer as it may not provide the proper nutrition for their diet. It is best to allow deer to obtain their nutrition from natural food sources.

Feeding deer sweet food is not recommended as it can disrupt their natural diet and cause health problems. It can also attract deer to human settlements and increase the risk of vehicle collisions and property damage. However, if you still wish to provide supplemental feed for deer, you should consult with a wildlife biologist or veterinarian for recommendations on appropriate types and quantities of feed.

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