Do deer eat sunflower seeds?

Do deer eat sunflower seeds? Sometimes they do, but for different reasons. In this article, we will talk about deer and their love-hate relationship with sunflower seeds.

Deer are quite the voracious eaters. They can eat a wide range of things, including food substances that may not be good for them. So, you might ask—do deer eat sunflower seeds?
You may have seen a deer steal some from a bird’s nest. But there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

Sunflower seeds technically come from sunflower plants, but there are two varieties. We humans eat the striped sunflower seeds and the black oil seeds popularly used for bird feeding.

Black oil seeds contain more meat and oil within thinner shells and make the perfect birdseed because of their nutritional content. Therefore, if you usually put out food for deer, sunflower seeds may look like a great option since you have seen them eat it, but it isn’t.

The danger

While you might find a deer disturbing a nest searching for tasty seeds, they consume it as snacks. Deer may also go after sunflower seeds if they haven’t found a more desirable food source. Still, the seeds contain many things that can bring harm to the deer. This harm increases with every step towards winter.

To understand what happens, let’s look at their stomach system. Unlike other animals, deer are ruminant. They depend on microbes in their stomach to digest food. These microbes gradually change as their diet changes, which means their ability to digest high fiber content today may not be available by the coming season. When they eat food that they don’t have the microbes for digestion, it causes a rap-id change in their stomach chemistry, resulting in complications and sometimes death.

Winter feeding and Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds seem high in oil. But they also have a high carbs content, which is lacking from the deer diet during winter. Therefore, deer cannot digest these seeds by winter, and the seeds may be compacted in their stomachs, causing blockages. Reports have shown of deer dying as a result of complications from eating sunflower seeds during the winter.

Sunflower seeds are dangerous for deer

Besides the lack of digestive microbes, the hulls of the sunflower seeds contain a chemical compound that isn’t just digestible by the deer. Furthermore, when deer eat these seeds in large quantities, the chemical compound will kill all microbes in the deer paunch, leading to severe complications and, final-ly, death.

Concluding thoughts

Do deer eat sunflower seeds? Yes, they do, but it should only be by their choice alone. Deer do not have the right microbes to digest the hulls of sunflower seeds. When these hulls are ingested in large quantities, it becomes poisonous to the deer, by killing off its digestive microbes and finally causing its demise. Again, sunflower seeds are high in carbs and not right for deer during the winter. Overall, it would be best if you never fed sunflower seeds directly or in deer food mixes. It is better for deer to have them in smaller quantities from their little getaways at the bird nests.

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Brad

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