Hemlock is a type of evergreen tree that deer love to munch on. If you have ever seen a deer eating hemlock, it may look like they are only nibbling on the leaves or chewing on the bark. But what they are also doing is licking the sap from the tree. This sap contains high levels of sugar and nutrients that deer need to survive through the winter months when other food sources are not as abundant.
During fall and winter, as temperatures drop and days grow shorter, deciduous trees lose their leaves while evergreens keep theirs year-round. So while other animals are scrounging for food among barren branches, deer can still find plenty to eat by dining on hemlocks.
Why do deer eat hemlock?
The bark and leaves of the hemlock tree are high in nutrients that deer need to survive, including calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Hemlock trees also provide shelter for deer from predators and the elements.
Nutritional benefits of hemlock for deer
Hemlock is a valuable source of nutrition for deer, providing them with essential vitamins and minerals that help them stay healthy and thrive. Hemlock is also high in fiber, which helps keep their digestive system functioning properly. Deer love the taste of hemlock, and it is a favorite food source for many of them.
What type of hemlock do deer like to eat?
There are many types of hemlock trees, and deer will eat the leaves of most of them. The tree that is most often called "hemlock" in North America is Tsuga canadensis, which grows throughout much of eastern and central Canada, as well as in the northeastern United States. Other common species include western hemlock and mountain hemlock. All three species are popular with deer, who find their needles to be a tasty treat.
Hemlock trees are conifers, meaning they have needle-like leaves rather than traditional flat leaves. This makes them especially palatable to browsers like deer, who prefer to eat soft vegetation. Hemlocks tend to grow in moist areas near streams or lakes, providing an ideal habitat for browsing animals like deer. In wintertime these evergreen trees can provide an important source of nutrition for herds of deer
How to feed hemlock to deer?
- Cut hemlock branches into 2-3 foot lengths.
- Place the cuttings in a pile near where you will be feeding the deer.
- When ready to feed, scatter the hemlock around an area that is accessible to deer but sheltered from wind and rain if possible.
When to feed hemlock to deer?
Deer will eat small amounts of hemlock as part of their diet without any ill effects. In fact, some studies have shown that feeding hemlock to deer can actually improve the health of the animals by providing them with essential nutrients and vitamins not found in other plants they typically consume.
So when should you start feeding hemlock to your deer herd? That depends on several factors, including the age and size of the animals, as well as the time of year. For example, young fawns or newborn calves may not be able to digest hemlock properly. As such, it's generally best to wait until these animals are at least six months old before introducing any significant amount of hemlock into their diet
Are hemlocks dangerous for deer to eat?
Many hemlocks are not dangerous for deer to eat. Hemlock is a common name for coniferous trees in the genus Tsuga. Plants called "hemlock" include some that are poisonous plants:
- Conium is a poison hemlock species native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. It has been introduced into other parts of the world including Australia and North America. All parts of this plant are poisonous.
How to prevent deer from eating hemlock?
There are several ways to prevent deer from eating hemlock. One is to fence in the area around the tree(s) with a tall fence that will deter deer from jumping over it and getting into the garden/landscape. Using repellents can also help keep deer away from hemlocks (and other plants).
Can deer eat hemlock?
Yes, deer can eat hemlock without any problems. The leaves, bark, and cones of the tree are all poisonous to humans if ingested, but deer seem to be immune to the toxins.
Can baby deer eat hemlock?
No, baby deer should not eat hemlock. You should wait until deer are older to feed hemlock to them
Do deer eat hemlock summary
Yes, deer will eat hemlock if given the chance. While it is not their first choice of food, they will consume it if other options are not available. Hemlock trees are actually poisonous to humans and animals alike, so why would deer risk eating something that could potentially kill them?
The reason has to do with the fact that deer have four stomachs which allows them to digest plants and leaves better than most animals. Their intestines are also much longer which helps break down toxins before they reach the bloodstream. So while eating small amounts of poison may make a human sick, it generally won't kill a deer unless consumed in large quantities over time.