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Can Deer Eat Rice?

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People love feeding deer. Some feed deer with leftover food while others buy deer feed from a store specifically meant for deer.

There are many different types of food that you can give to deer. For example, some people suggest that instead of wasting rice, you can give it to deer.

Can deer eat rice? Deer can eat rice, but you must use caution. Rice contains a lot of carbohydrates and energy, so giving rice to deer may be toxic considering the type of digestive system that deer have.

Deer resting at the zoo and a plate of cooked rice

Things to Consider When Feeding Deer Rice

1. Rice has a Lot of Carbohydrates

Depending on the type, rice can have over 26% carbohydrate in 100g. This means that consuming too much rice can be toxic to deer as deer have a complex digestive system that can release the nutrients in rice quickly.

With the high amount of carbohydrates in rice, you should not give too much (no matter the type) to deer.

2. Deer are Ruminants

As ruminants, deer have a rumen in which there are millions of microbes such as fungi, bacteria, protozoans, etc. The microbes in the rumen of deer help deer digest materials quickly (This is why you see ruminant animals such as goats, cows, deer, etc. always searching for food).

Aside from a fast digestion rate, the microbes in the rumen of deer help deer to digest materials such as cellulose (dietary fiber). Dietary fiber is a very important component in animal feed because most animals cannot digest fiber.

Since many animals cannot digest fiber, animal nutritionists increase or reduce the level of fiber in animal feed to help animals digest the processed food quickly or slowly.

As for deer and other ruminants, they can digest cellulose. When cellulose is broken down, it releases glucose which is the same as what carbohydrates give. This means that a food such as rice that contains both carbohydrates and fiber will simply give deer more glucose.

This is why you should only give deer rice in very small amounts.

3. Rice Absorbs Moisture

If you have eaten rice and other starchy food, you’ve observed that rice absorbs moisture.

This means that there is the need to drink water after consuming rice. In harsh seasons such as winter, there is no or very little water available to deer so if you give rice to deer without water, you may be doing more harm than good.

As you can see, although you can feed deer rice, you need to consider a lot of things.

Comparing Rice Nutritional Value with Deer Protein Needs

Rice in wooden bowl and wooden spoon on wooden table

Can rice satisfy the nutrient needs of deer? While every nutrient is important, deer need more protein for growth, development, and reproduction.

We will be comparing the nutrients available in different types of rice with the nutritional requirement of deer.

The table below shows levels of various nutrients in different types of rice.

NutrientCook RiceUncooked RiceRice Bran

(Sources: Cooked Rice, Uncooked Rice, and Rice Bran)

As you can see from the table above, uncooked rice has more nutrients than cooked rice. If you consider the fiber level, it is clear that deer will digest cooked rice faster than they digest uncooked rice.

Let’s consider the protein needs of deer with the table below:

StageDescriptionProtein Need
FawnNormal growth14% to 18%
FawnFast growth16% to 20%
AdultMaintenance6% to 10%
Adult (female)Pregnancy11% to 15%
Adult (female)During Lactation14% to 22%
Adult (male)Development of Antlers15% to 16%


Comparing the protein available in table 1 with the protein need for deer in table 2, it is clear that both cooked and uncooked rice do not contain enough proteins for deer. Rice bran, however, contains sufficient proteins for deer.

Feeding Deer with Rice Bran

First of all, you should know that animal nutritionists and feed mills use rice bran as an ingredient to make animal feed. Rice bran increases the carbohydrate and fiber levels of animal feed.

With a fiber content of over 60%, you should know that even if deer can digest fiber, they will digest the rice bran very slowly. This means that they will not get the needed protein as fast as they should. If you can, mix the rice bran with cooked rice for deer.

As an extra note, you should know that deer love rice bran. Hunters even use rice bran to attract deer.

Common Foods That Deer Can Eat

Woman's hand feeding deer in a park

Aside from rice, here are other types of food that deer can eat:

1. Deer Mix

If you wish, you can go to a store to buy deer mix. Deer mix is a type of processed feed made specifically for deer. The nutrition of deer mix is similar to that of goat pellets, but there are a few differences.

Deer mix contains every nutrient that deer need at their particular age.

2. Fruits and Vegetables

You can give fruits to deer as treats. Just like rice, fruits contain a lot of energy and few proteins. Deer love fruits they make great treats.

Examples of fruits that you can give to deer are:

  • Mangoes
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Grapes

As for vegetables, you should give deer as many vegetables as you can. Deer need their leafy greens.

Examples of vegetables that you can give to deer are:

  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce

3. Soft Twigs and Tree Branches

As ruminants, deer can digest cellulose. The bark of tree trunks and branches as well as soft twigs are made of cellulose.

During the winter, deer may find it hard to reach the upper branches of trees so you can help by cutting some for them.

Related Questions and Answers

roe deer smelling purple flowers on the ground

1. Can Deer Eat Maize?

Deer should not eat maize because maize contains a lot of starch that can affect their rumen. If you must give maize to deer, give the only in very small quantity.

2. Can Fawns Eat Rice?

Unlike humans, young animals have a good digestive system after weaning. Fawns can eat rice, but the same principle of feeding rice to older deer applies to them.

3. Can You Mix Rice with Other Foods for Deer?

It is up to you and what the deer wants. Some people mix rice with peas, cooked beans, etc. for deer and the deer love it.

Others mix rice and fruits for deer. If your deer loves it, give it to them. Just make sure that you consider the nutrients in the food you are giving to your deer.

Final Thoughts

Deer can eat rice but in small quantities. Deer can also eat rice bran.

You should not give too much rice to deer to prevent their rumen from bloating. Remember to give your deer healthy treats.


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