Deer Diet - Your experience please.

UK Outfitters


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I am currently doing some research into the food eaten by deer in the UK and would appreciate it if anyone could help. I want to find out what you have seen deer eat and when. I have included below a few examples from my own experience of the last 12 months:

Muntjac - Hawthorth leaves - May
Fallow - Crab apples - September

I hope others may also find the responses to the thread interesting.

Best regards



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new shots on bramble ,plantain, rape plants in winter. often see roe on fodder beet at this time of year.

and of course the tops out of trees
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Red deer on the Isle of Wight graze on volunteer cereals in stubble in autumn and winter. Taller herbage and coarse grasses at field margins and hedgerow bases in summer with the odd bite taken from the new growth on deciduous trees. Pasture at any time of year but from my observations they seem to mainly graze rather than browse.

atb Tim
wild deer hind & calf 27.9.14.JPG

Isle of Wight Deer
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Gardens & Deer by Charles Coles has an extensive list of what are eaten by deer and what seem to never be eaten by deer.
Generally they will find what is the best food available at that time of year. That's why Roe tend to 'herd' in the winter. Nothing to do with 'herding' everything to do with turning up in the same place for the best food available.
Victims of their own digestive systems.


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In looking at what deer eat, it is important to consider their preferences & what choice is available. They will eat their preferred food first, but if that becomes short they will switch. I hosted a research project conducted by a University & Govt authority on one of my places,although it was mainly looking at "deer deterrents". It was an eye opener as to what deer will eat when they are given different choices & the novelty & suspicion of new food is gone. Some surprising results! Rusa appear to enjoy Mexican chilli powder?

I now use red deer as a biological control on prickly pear cactus in some places, & sambar to control sifton/biddi bush, antelope on thistles, & chital on fire weed to name a few. These are things that most hunters are completely oblivious to. Using hunters for this research may be a good start & you will get the most commonly used & preferred food species ,but you won't get a definitive list unless you just use rumen samples exclusively. This will require monthly samples, as the seasons, availability & choice change & from location to location.



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and they love wheat from our feeders at times seem to be eating more than the birds

Have watched muntys and fallow feeding from feeders early season, but put one of my cameras watching a feeder for three weeks in December and not a single image of a deer. Very surprised.


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Fallow have been eating any ivy that the wind brings down and continue through the year as and when it shoots out.
Early rape is suffering 16 shot on 2 fields since xmas. Nothing is touching the cereals at the moment.


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Sorry deleted previous post as made a right pig's ear of it.

Start again. Taken from abstracts from Journal of Zoology author Dr Jackson. Can give the lead in to both articles.

( Jackson Roe deer diet New Forest. Jackson Fallow diet New Forest in google or some angel from the site can please post the url)

Rumen contents of 105 Roe analysed Nov70-March 73

325 Fallow over the same period

Bear in mind that Roe are classified as Concentrate selectors and Fallow are intermediate between Concentrate and Grazers (RR Hofmann et al) and this is a winter spring period.


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Roe love chicory, they completely cleaned out the chicory from a game cover mix one summer. And as also mentioned they also have a taste for wheat from pheasant feeders.


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Roe love chicory, they completely cleaned out the chicory from a game cover mix one summer. And as also mentioned they also have a taste for wheat from pheasant feeders.

fallow like wheat from feeders too as already said. shot one in Dec full of wheat grain.
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