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Can Deer Eat Bread?

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If you’re wondering, “Can deer eat bread?”, the answer is, yes, they can!

Deer are out in numbers during summer, and all across the country, people try to get up close. Whether you’re trying to bait a wild deer or you and the kids want to see if you can feed the deer that wander into your yard, bread is a good choice.

Deer love to eat bread because it’s filling and sometimes it can be hard for them to get food. For example, when deer are having a harder time finding food in the winter, they’ll be even more inclined to look for things like bread or to take handouts from humans offering bread.

a deer buck

The only thing to keep in mind when feeding deer bread is, if you’re feeding it to them as a treat, keep it to just that. Don’t overfeed them bread because it doesn’t have much nutritional value. You don’t want to discourage deer from eating the fruits and plants they need for a healthy diet.

Here are some things you should know about feeding deer bread and some information on their diets that will be helpful to keep in mind when you’re trying to feed them.

Types of Bread Deer Will Eat

Deer aren’t picky eaters. They are hyper-aware animals that will take a reliable food source as long as they feel safe from predators.

If you set out some bread in the yard or on a hunt, the deer will eat it up until it’s gone. They’ll happily take the free meal as long as they don’t feel threatened.

bread basket

The type of bread doesn’t matter as much. No deer is going to turn it down because you’re trying to give them some rye bread. They’ll eat:

  • Moldy bread
  • Stale bread
  • White bread
  • Wheat bread
  • Bagels
  • Anything in between

Yes, some deer might turn their noses up if the bread is too moldy, but, again, they’re not exactly picky eaters. Just know that overeating bread could be fatal for deer in extreme cases.

Limit the Amount of White Bread

A couple of slices of white bread won’t do too much harm but beware of feeding any deer too much white bread. If they eat too much, it could lead to an unhealthy buildup of lactic acid that can make them sick.

The condition is called lactic acidosis and is essentially carbohydrate engorgement. It’s something that affects a lot of animals, including deer, when they eat too many cereal grains or fermented starches.

The condition causes diarrhea and dehydration. If you’re feeding deer regularly, stick to healthier wheat or whole grain bread options instead.

In the same vein, limit things like donuts, cakes, cookies, etc. Yes, you’re more likely to lure more deer with the temptation of sugar, but it’s not good for the deer and long-term it can make them unhealthy.

Adult deer have much stronger digestive systems than fawns, so take extra precaution when feeding young deer bread.

They may not be able to process the food as well and it could make them sick with even small quantities of bread.

Tips for Feeding Deer Bread

Most people love the sight of deer grazing in their backyards as the sun sets over the horizon. They are docile creatures that many of us saw in movies growing up, and generally, they present no threat to humans except maybe a ruined flower bed or two.

If you’re interested in using bread to feed the deer at home or on a hunt, here are some tips to be the most effective.

Get the time right – Deer love to come out early in the morning and as the sun goes down. Putting bread outside during dusk and dawn increases your odds of success.

Deer use this time of day because they feel like it’s safer to venture out. They’ll still be able to spot the bread with their eyes and noses.

Put the bread in different spots – Instead of sticking a large pile of bread in a mound somewhere, try placing smaller amounts across an area. Deer will be a bit more suspicious of a pile of bread just sitting there ready to be eaten.

Also, there will likely be more than one deer, so spreading them out will make it easier for all of the deer to get a piece or two.

Try salting the bread – Deer love salt. It’s a critical mineral for their overall health, and they’re always licking something trying to get more salt.

They will be particularly drawn to salty bread and will be able to smell it from a long way off.

Dim the lights – Turn off the motion lights and keep things naturally lit outside to make it more comfortable for the deer to come close.

Stay as quiet as possible – Of course, making loud noises or rustling around in the bushes is likely to scare them off even if there is some delicious bread sitting there. Deer are notoriously skittish and won’t come close if they feel even a bit threatened.

Feeding deer bread will take patience and a bit of luck. These wary animals won’t approach unless they feel sure they will be safe.

a dear eating a slice of bread

Feeding in Moderation is Key

While feeding deer bread, or anything for that matter, can be fun and a cool experience for kids, giving them too much can be bad for the deer. They could build a dependency on the food you give them, and it will impact their ability to forage and find food for themselves.

As we’ve mentioned, feeding deer too much bread can be bad for them, so simply stick to moderation and have a fun moment feeding them every once in a while. That way you can make sure the deer enjoy a treat every now and then and still stay as healthy as possible.

The main thing is that you don’t want to change their natural diets for something that doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value.


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