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January 19, 2021 2 min read

Do deer eat turnip? Now, that is a tricky question as the answer is both yes. Deer are very picky eaters, except when they are close to starvation. But otherwise, they are pretty snobby eaters.

Turnips have high protein value that ranges from 15 to 20 per cent in the leaves and roots, and deer with their sensitive digestive system find it highly digestible. This is to say that they can eat turnip and get a lot out of it, nutritionally speaking.

Another advantage of turnip is that unlike cereals and forages that have fiber content that increases with age, making them sometimes difficult to digest to deer, depending on the season, the fiber content of turnips stays the same throughout the growing season. Essentially, this means an all year round turnip party for the resident deer population.

With the nutritional benefit of turnip and the fact that it is easy for deer to digest it, you would think that they would eat it all year round, but that is not the case as deer are only seen eating turnip tops when they become or they have gone cold. The moment they become mature and have experienced a bit of frost, the leaves would have converted their starch to sugar, then deer comes to eat.

If you are looking to try out something new for your food plot, turnip will be a great addition as it is a win-win situation for both you and the deer. Usually, deer are only interested in the leafy tops of the turnip plant and will only rarely dig up the turnip plant itself. If there are other things to distract them-easy to access food, then they will most likely leave the turnip plant for you. When this happens, you might want to whip out those recipes that need turnip and have yourself a delicious meal.

To keep the deer coming in, you can’t have a food plot that is all turnips. Depending on the season, you can throw in forages such as cow peas, soybeans, corn and sorghum (warm season) and oats, wheat, clovers, chicory, brassiness and cereal rye (cool season). There is a method to keep the deer coming into a food plot. Just a few tips and you are set.

Whatever you decide to plant on your food plot, there are a few planting instructions that should be adhered to get the best out of the food plot.

On a final note, turnips are in fact of great nutritional benefit for deer and they will eat the leaves once it is matured and has turned sweet. However, don’t be surprised that your resident deer will rather eat acorns than dig up the turnips once they are done with the leaves.

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