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August 25, 2020 2 min read

Deer are highly picker eaters, not that anyone is blaming, what with the kind of digestive system they have. In answer to the question “Do deer eat timothy hay?” the answer is that they can, but they mostly don’t eat it.
Timothy hay falls at the bottom of the food preference list for deer that wildlife owners are advised not to bother with it as an option for feeding their deer. It should be reiterated that deer are picker eaters and this is largely because of their digestive system. The way their digestive system is built, deer cannot process coarse food fast enough for their bodies, so they select tender leaves, grasses, fruits and forbs that have a low cellulose content that their digestive system can process fast enough. This implies that a very hungry deer could in fact eat timothy hay, but that is usually as a last resort.

It is easy to think that because they are herbivores they will eat just about anything that grows from the soil. But deer begs to differ as they as also capable of having preferences just like humans. Deer like food vegetables, the kinds that are commonly grown in gardens and yards like mushrooms, apples, cabbages, etc. In times of food scarcity, they could eat twigs and barks, but even then, Timothy hay doesn’t make it to the top of their feeding list. This might help you know more about what deer like to e

Some wildlife owners think that timothy hay is a good enough plant to have around to serve as feed for the deer, considering it is cheap to cultivate and easy to come by. But unless they plant on having other things around asides from Timothy hay for the deer, they might have a case of deer that’s not feeding well on their hands. Timothy hay is better suited for deer as a bedding material than as food.

Another thing wildlife owner usually want to know is if deer can eat alfalfa hay. Just like with timothy hay, they can eat alfalfa hay, except that the timing is very important. If a deer eats alfalfa hay exclusively at the wrong time, they are likely to die of starvation with a stomach full of hay. Ironic, isn’t it? What controls this is the season and the state of their digestive system. During the summer, their digestive system has a good number of leaf digesting microorganism that make for smooth digestion of alfalfa hay. But when a deer eats hay during the fall when there has been a drastic reduction in its number of leaf digesting microorganisms due to a change in diet, it is very likely to die of starvation with alfalfa in its stomach because it is either digesting it too slow for its needs, or it is not digesting it at all.

On a final note, it is better to feed deer with things that are more palatable to them and better for their digestive system. Timothy hay isn’t considered appetizing to deer and they will most likely turn their noses up at it.