While it may not seem like an appetizing option to us humans, tree bark is actually a rich source of nutrients for deer. In fact, studies have shown that the nutritional content of tree bark can be similar to that of green foliage (on a dry matter basis). So when times are tough and there's not much else to eat around - eating tree bark can help deer survive until springtime arrives.
Why do deer eat bark?
Deer are browsers, which means that they feed on the leaves, twigs, and buds of woody plants. In winter, when other food sources are scarce, deer will eat the bark of trees and shrubs. This behavior is known as "girdling" and can damage or kill a tree.
There are several reasons why deer might eat bark in winter:
- Lack of other food - Deer have a four-chamber stomach that ferments their food so they can extract nutrients over an extended period of time. In wintertime, when deciduous trees have lost their leaves and there is less available forage (grass, weeds), deer must find alternative sources of nutrition like tree bark.
- Nutritional value - While the nutritional content of tree bark is low compared to other foods eaten by deer, it does contain some proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals needed by animals during periods of stress (like cold weather).
- While deer will consume the bark of most trees, they prefer the tender young bark of saplings and shrubs.
Nutritional benefits of bark for deer
Deer are often seen eating the bark of trees, and there is a good reason for this. Bark is an excellent source of nutrition for deer, providing them with essential vitamins and minerals that they need to stay healthy. Here are some of the most important benefits of bark for deer:
- Bark is rich in fiber, which helps keep deer regular and aids in digestion.
- The nutrients in bark help support a strong immune system, keeping deer healthy and free from disease.
- Deer rely on the vitamin C found in tree bark to produce collagen, which is necessary for wound healing and tissue repair.
- Deer also consume bark to fulfill their daily water needs; trees can provide a large portion of a deer's daily water intake. In winter, when other food sources are scarce, deer will eat the inner bark (cambium) of trees as it is a rich source of carbohydrates and calories.
- Tree bark is a good source of calcium, which helps keep bones strong and healthy.
- Deer also use tree bark as a way to self-medicate when they are sick or injured; certain types of tree bark contain compounds that can help reduce inflammation or fight off infection
What type of bark do deer like to eat
Deer love to eat a variety of different types of bark, including the bark from maple, oak, and birch trees. The deer will also consume the innermost layer of cambium (a thin layer of actively growing tissue found under the tree's bark) as well.
How to feed bark to deer?
Deer enjoy eating bark, and it provides them with essential nutrients. The best way to feed bark to deer is by placing it in a feeding station or using a tree-mounted feeder.
When choosing what type of bark to feed your deer, consider the following:
- The size of the pieces - Deer can choke on large pieces of bark, so make sure the pieces are small enough for them to eat safely.
- The nutritional content - Some types of bark are more nutritious than others. Choose a variety that will provide your deer with the vitamins and minerals they need.
- The palatability - Not all types of bark taste good to deer. Select one that your deer will actually want to eat!
How do deer eat bark?
They use their sharp incisors to strip bark from trees. The type of tree doesn't matter as much as the age of the tree - younger trees with thinner bark are easier for deer to eat.
Deer will also eat lichens and mosses that grow on tree bark. These provide essential nutrients like vitamins C and D that deer need to stay healthy. In winter, when food is scarce, deer may even consume woody shrubs and small saplings.
When to feed bark to deer?
The best time of year to offer supplemental nutrition in the form of tree browse is during the fall and winter months, when natural forage is scarce. However, if drought conditions persist into spring and early summer, consider offering browse earlier than usual as starving deer may resort to eating trees sooner than normal.
Is bark dangerous for deer to eat?
- No, bark is not dangerous for deer to eat. Deer are browsers and their diet consists mostly of browse (leaves, twigs, and buds of woody plants).
How to prevent deer from eating bark?
Deer are known to eat the bark of trees, which can ultimately kill the tree. To prevent deer from eating the bark of your trees, there are a few things you can do:
- Install a physical barrier around the trunk of the tree. This could be something like chicken wire or fencing. Be sure that whatever material you use is tall enough that deer cannot reach over it to get to the bark.
- Apply a repellent spray to the trunk and branches of your tree. You can make your own repellent by mixing water with dish soap and garlic cloves, or you can purchase commercial deer repellents at most hardware stores.
Do deer like bark?
Deer like to eat the soft, inner bark of trees. This is known as phloem tissue and it's full of sugars that deer find irresistible. The tree species that deer prefer vary depending on what's available in their habitat, but some favorites include maple, birch, poplar, and willow trees.
When a deer strips the bark from a tree it causes damage to the vascular system of the plant which can ultimately kill it. For this reason, bark stripping is considered one of the most damaging forms of herbivory (plant eating) by forest managers.
Can deer eat bark?
Deer can eat bark, but it is not their preferred food source. Bark is high in fiber and low in nutrients, so deer will only consume it when other food sources are limited. If you see a deer eating bark, it likely means that the animal is hungry and desperate for something to eat.
Can deer digest bark?
Yes, deer can digest bark. Deer often eat bark as part of their diet in the wild. While bark is not as nutritious as other types of food, it can help deer to stay hydrated and full. If you see a deer eating bark, it is likely doing so out of necessity rather than pleasure.
How much bark should you feed a deer?
Deer need 2-4% of their body weight in forage per day. For example, a 200-pound doe needs 4 pounds of forage daily. The best way to provide this is through a combination of hay and browse (leaves and twigs). A good rule of thumb is that 60% should be hay and 40% browse.
Can baby deer eat bark?
Yes, baby deer can eat bark. In fact, deer often eat bark as a part of their diet. However, it is important to note that different types of bark offer different nutritional values. For example, maple and pine bark are good sources of protein. Ultimately, the best way to ensure that your baby deer is getting the nutrients it needs is to consult with a veterinarian or wildlife expert.
Do deer eat bark summary
Deer eating bark is a common behavior for these animals. While it may seem strange to us, there are several reasons why deer do this. First, bark provides deer with essential nutrients that they need to survive. Deer also eat bark to help them get nutrition in the winter when other food sources are scarce. Finally, bark provides deer with hydration, which is vital for their health.