Do Deer Eat Hay???

Discussion in 'Michigan Whitetail Deer Hunting' started by Bucky, Feb 5, 2007.

  1. Was wondering if they eat hay because its not very expensive and i will put some out for them because i doubt they have alot to eat this time of year.

    Wanna kill these ads? We can help!
  2. Horse hay no. Hay for cattle, especially dairy cattle(alfalfa hay) yes.

    L & O

  3. I tried some 3rd cutting alfalfa hay the past 2 years and no deer ate a piece of it. All they ever did was kick it around and then lay on it...........:lol:

    Tried 2 different winters and same results each time. The rabbits ate it though.
  4. Where we snowmobiling in the UP, the bar/resturant owner puts out those large round bales of hay, and the deer devour them night and day - so the answer there at least, is yes!
  5. i pour concrete walls for basements and when its cold we cover the concrete with straw. last year at a job i was working on there were deer tracks going into the basement [walk out] and to the straw that was in there. i dont know if they were eating it or not but the tracks definately went right to it.
  6. My hay, little to zero alfalfa, and slight amounts of clover, and little to no amounts of timothy left,

    But they don't touch it. Put it there two years back. Still have not looked at it.
  7. Yes, deer eat hay.
    I mean, they eat freakin bark if they have to!
    Anyway, I had a neighbor who would put out apples, beets, carrots and fresh hay.... watching from his cabin, hay seemed to be one of their first choices.
  8. I don't know if their metabolism is quite up for hay at this time of the year. That would be another question, but I think that deer could bloat or get pretty sick if you could get them to eat that now anyway.
    Here is a good link...
    They say no hay in the winter....

    Just some of what is in this article...
    Deer may STARVE when fed supplemental foods during winter.

    Deer require one or two weeks to adjust to new foods. Waiting until deer are starving before offering supplemental foods actually hastens starvation. Stress (related to diet change) is minimized if deer are introduced to supplemental foods early in the winter, when they are still healthy.

    Some foods are not easily digested by deer during winter. Hay of any kind, kitchen scraps, or cabbage and lettuce trimmings do not provide adequate nutrition for deer. Feeding these foods to deer can lead to starvation. Deer usually do well when apples, oats, or acorns are given as diet supplements. However, the best supplemental food is a complete horse, dairy, or deer formulation in pellet form. It contains about 14% protein and provides sufficient energy and fiber to promote normal digestive function in most deer.

  9. Yes, deer will eat hay, any kind of hay, if they're hungry enough. If they're not, they won't touch it, or they'll be very picky as to what they eat. Turkeys are the same way, but turkeys burn energy a lot faster and will need help in the form of nutritious food a lot sooner.

    That's why deer will devour hay in the UP in February and ignore it in Wayland. Winter is hard for months at a time in the UP, in the GR area, winter rarely lasts, ie., deep snow and bitter cold, for more than a couple of weeks.

    I wouldn't worry about wasting the money on them unless you have at least 2+ feet of snow with a hard crust that lasts for several weeks and bitter cold along with it. If they can dig through the snow, they'll continue to eat natural mast and left-over ag crops.
  10. The reason deer may have a hard time digesting certain feeds in the winter months has to do with their need for a gradual acclimation in order to get their rumen bacteria geared-up. All ruminants are this way. If they eat a little hay all fall and winter, it would be no problem. But, folks generally wait until the deer are in tough shape to begin feeding, and there is potential for problems.
    Either way, I think habitat improvements are the best way to feed deer during winter. Shooting an appropriate number of does in the fall can be every bit as important, depending on the local area.
  11. A few years back a local farmer left about 50 round bales in the field. By spring there wasn't a single one left. The deer would even bed down in the spilled hay during the day so they didn't have to go back to the swamp. we never found a deer dead in the swamp that spring while shed hunting. Must be it didn't kill them. They must have survived on it.

    Another farmer cried that the deer ate up his corn. No sympathy from me as he never picked it until New years:D

    I have seen many hay fields full of deer munching on what is left of the standing hay after it freezes off in the fall. Why would baled hay be any different?
  12. Deer will rarely eat hay unless they are very hungry and/or there is nothing else available. At least that was my observation growing up on a small farm.
  13. deer will eat hay lol they do all year long......just happens to be green some times when they do ..clover alfapha ect.........all depends on where you are in michigan..they will allways eat what ever will give them the most nutirtion for the energy spent to get it.............
  14. Yes deer eat hay. If not buddy most of had a retard deer this fall that he shot in his stand over a hay field. nice little 6 pointer
  15. Deer eating alfalfa hay is one thing. We have all see thousands of deer in alfalfa fields. Deer eating horse hay, hay that is mostly timothy, brome, ryegrass and weeds is another story. From my experience, if you put out cattle(alfalfa) hay the deer will eat it without hesitation during the winter. If you put out horse hay that is maybe 10% alfalfa, they will eat about 10% of it. Timothy, brome, & ryegrass are usually starvation foods for deer. I doubt that any deer in Mich. are starving yet.

    L & O

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