Do Whitetail Deer Eat Alfalfa Hay? You May Be Surprised!

Supplemental feed is often used by hunters and landowners for white-tailed deer to help improve nutrition and diet quality during times of nutritional stress like winter, or drought season.

Alfalfa, also known as the “Queen of Forages,” is one of the oldest and most widely grown crops for supplemental purposes.

But do whitetail deer eat alfalfa hay? It is a good choice to feed to whitetail deer?

Let’s find out!

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Do Whitetail Deer Eat Alfalfa Hay?

Deer love to eat alfalfa hay and will flock to established alfalfa plots. Alfalfa is a high-quality forage crop and is an appealing food source for whitetails. Deer enjoy alfalfa for its flavor, in addition to its high-quality protein, mineral, and fiber-rich content.

Take a drive around any of the large alfalfa plots in the western or midwestern states and you’re likely to see plenty of deer feeding in the green fields.

Is Alfalfa Hay Good For Deer?

Alfalfa hay is an excellent food source for deer. It is highly palatable, provides nutrients, and is rich in digestible fiber. It’s a great supplemental food option to help deer recover from the demands of the breeding season, recover from harsh winter conditions, and regain lost nourishment. This makes it a high-quality forage choice among whitetails.

It’s also convenient for hunters too, because alfalfa hay can be purchased from feed stores around the country.

Some hunters build a small raised platform to keep the hay off the ground (similar to a feed trough) to stack the alfalfa hay and feed deer.

Can Deer Eat Too Much Alfalfa?

Although deer are quite tolerant and enjoy alfalfa, it does have the ability to cause bloating in deer. Alfalfa is a food source meant for grazing animals rather than browsing ones, however whitetail deer will still eat it when its available.

Will Deer Eat Alfalfa Hay In The Winter?

Alfalfa, when managed properly, will be the preferred winter feed option for whitetails. Deer eat alfalfa hay in the winter, but typically consume the greatest amount of alfalfa in the summertime.

Do Whitetail Deer Eat Alfalfa Hay? You May Be Surprised!

It is important to note that deer may actually starve when fed supplemental foods during winter if they have a stomach full of indigestible foods; many deer have starved to death with stomachs packed full of hay.

How Late Will Deer Eat Alfalfa?

Alfalfa is a long-living, cool-season, species that will start growing in late March and continue throughout October. It’s a high-yielding, perennial, known for its hardiness and ability to withstand a range of climatic conditions.

Due to its capacity to grow round, deer will munch on alfalfa year round as long as the crop is still producing.

However, deer typically consume the greatest amount of alfalfa in the summertime or late winter, when native forages may be lacking in quantity or nutritional value.

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