In the early fall, deer will often venture into urban areas in search of food, and one of their favorite snacks is kudzu. Kudzu is an invasive plant that can quickly spread and choke out other plants, but deer seem to love it anyway. While munching on kudzu, deer can help control its growth by eating the pods before they have a chance to disperse seeds. So if you have some deer visiting your garden this fall, enjoy their company—and be glad they're helping to keep kudzu under control.
Why do deer eat kudzu?
There are a few reasons why deer might eat kudzu. One reason is that kudzu provides an easy source of food for deer. The leaves of the kudzu plant are high in protein and fiber, which makes them good food for deer. Another reason is that kudzu can help protect deer from predators by providing cover from sight and scent.
Nutritional benefits of kudzu for deer
Kudzu is a fast-growing, climbing vine native to Asia. It was introduced to the southeastern United States in 1876 as an ornamental plant and for soil erosion control. Kudzu readily invades roadsides, pastures, utility easements, abandoned fields, and forest edges throughout the Southeast. This invasive species can quickly cover trees, shrubs, and other vegetation growing up to 60 feet per season; it has been known to grow 1 foot per day! Once kudzu establishes itself in an area it is very difficult to control or eradicate due to its extremely rapid growth rate and ability to spread vegetatively from stem fragments.
The nutritional benefits of kudzu are many:
- Kudzu leaves are high in protein (upwards of 20% crude protein), calcium, phosphorus & potassium - essential nutrients for deer health & antler growth
- In addition, Kudzu contains lignans - phytonutrients that function as antioxidants & have hormone balancing effects which further promote deer health
- Deer prefer young tender shoots of kudzu which contain higher levels of these important nutrients
What type of kudzu do deer like to eat?
Deer tend to prefer the leaves of the kudzu plant, but will also eat the stems and flowers. The vines of the kudzu plant are not as palatable to deer.
How to feed kudzu to deer?
Kudzu is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate forage that can be used to supplement the diet of deer. Kudzu can be found growing in pastures, along roadsides, and in other open areas. The leaves of kudzu are large and tender, making them an ideal food source for deer. Kudzu is also high in calcium and phosphorus, which are essential nutrients for healthy bones and teeth.
Harvest kudzu leaves from plants that have not been treated with herbicides or pesticides. Rinse the leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. Chop the leaves into small pieces using a sharp knife or gardening shears.
When to feed kudzu to deer?
Kudzu blooms from June through September with small purple flowers that turn into brown seed pods containing three seeds each. The leaves are large (up to 8 inches long) and have 3-7 lobes; they are alternate on the stem and may be either hairy or hairless. Each leaf stalk has two stipules at its base which fuse together forming a sheath around the stem
Is kudzu dangerous for deer to eat?
No, kudzu is not dangerous for deer to eat. Kudzu leaves are rich in protein and minerals, and the roots contain complex carbohydrates that can help support the animal's digestive system.
How to prevent deer from eating kudzu?
Deer are known to eat just about anything they can get their mouths on, including kudzu. This invasive plant species is particularly troublesome in the southeastern United States, where it has taken over vast tracts of land. Kudzu grows rapidly and smothers native vegetation.
There are several ways to prevent deer from eating kudzu:
- Fencing: A physical barrier will keep deer out of an area where kudzu is growing. The fence should be at least 8 feet tall to deter jumping, and the bottom 6 inches should be buried underground to prevent digging underneath.
- Planting deterrents: Deer avoid certain plants because of their taste or texture. Common examples include garlic, marigolds, and moth balls (naphthalene). These can be planted around the perimeter of an area where kudzu is growing to discourage browsing. However, this method may need to be repeated regularly as deterrence effects typically wear off over time.
- Repellents: There are many commercial products available that contain either synthetic or natural compounds that repel deer.
Do deer like kudzu?
Deer like kudzu because it is a source of food and shelter. Kudzu provides deer with a place to hide from predators and the elements, as well as a tasty meal. The leaves of the kudzu plant are high in protein and low in calories, making them an ideal food source for deer. In addition, kudzu grows quickly, providing deer with an ever-changing landscape of new foliage to munch on.
Can deer digest kudzu?
Deer are able to digest kudzu due to their four-chambered stomach. The first chamber is responsible for breaking down tough plant matter, while the second chamber ferments it. This fermentation process breaks down complex carbohydrates and proteins, making them easier for the deer to absorb in the third and fourth chambers. Deer also have a cecum, which is an organ that further aids in digestion by housing bacteria that break down cellulose.
Do deer eat kudzu summary
Deer are known to eat a variety of plants, including kudzu. While kudzu may be detrimental to local ecosystems, deer seem to enjoy eating the leaves of this plant. If you have kudzu on your property, it is likely that deer will visit to munch on the leaves. While there is no need to encourage deer to eat kudzu, they will not do any harm by eating this plant.