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What to Feed a Pet Deer

| Updated September 26, 2017

Many states allow people to keep deer as pets, although you may need a special permit from your state wildlife management department. If you're allowed to keep deer as pets, you will find them fairly easy to manage. They do, however, require adequate and the right type of food.

Feeding Times and Amounts

Deer prefer to eat right after sunrise and right before sunset. They are the most active during these periods. Feed your pet deer twice a day—when daylight hours begin and in the evening before the sun goes down.

Include a couple of food items for variety during each feeding. Wild deer eat different weeds, plants, grasses and seeds, depending on the season. Similarly, you should base your food choices for your pet deer on the season.

Purchase individual feed trays and a large community water troth at a farm supply store. Fill two large coffee cans with food and dump them in each feed tray. Observe the eating patterns of your pet deer. If they consume the food very quickly, you may need to adjust the amounts given.

Spring and Summer Foods

Feed your pet deer clover, lettuce and corn during the spring and summer. Deer generally eat the leafy parts of plants, shrubs and trees during these seasons. Pick clover and oak leaves and mix them with lettuce. Give your pet deer oak acorns when they become available at the end of summer and early fall. Gather oak acorns and place them in burlap bags for a readily available supply. Acorns are an important energy food staple and a necessity for building fat reserves for the winter months.

Fall and Winter Chow

Continue to feed pet deer acorns and corn in fall and winter months. Gather field corncobs and remove the husks. Take large plastic or metal containers and drill holes in the sides for aeration, and place the corncobs inside the bins. Aeration is necessary to dry out the corn and to prevent crop rot. Do not be concerned if your pet deer loses a small amount of weight during winter months. All deer have adapted through evolution to losing weight during this time due to scarce food resources in the wild during winter months.

Commercial Foods

Talk to your local wildlife management officials about feeding deer a farm grain that is readily available for purchase at feed stores. Discuss the commercial food options and what is best for your deer. Ask if you should buy a commercial grain that is marketed for cows, horses or other farm animals.