Skip to Content

Do Deer Eat Clover? (Read This First!)

Deer have a wide variety of vegetation in their diets, including various seeds and nuts. So does clover make the list of things that deer eat? Deer can and do eat multiple other things, including leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds. 

Be sure to include clover in your list of options to keep your lawn and plants healthy. Are you curious why? Keep reading to find out.

Do deer eat clover?

Deer consume clover. Clover is a nutritious food source for deer because it contains many essential nutrients. Even though clover is not their preferred food, they may consume it in the wild. As they consume almost all sorts of grasses, broad-leaved plants, plantains, tubers, and fruits.

However, if deer eat clover, you should investigate the source because some types contain a toxic compound that can cause harm to deer. Here are some common clover varieties; let’s see if deer will eat them.

Crimson/Red clover:

Crimson/Red clover is high in calcium and other essential nutrients, making it an excellent choice for lagging deer.

White Dutch clover:

White Dutch clover is a type of clover with high sugar content. While deer will usually avoid eating it, they may consume small amounts if they are hungry.

Sweet clover:

Deer don’t like sweet clover, but they’ll eat it if it’s the only food available. While this type of clover does not contain as many nutrients as others, it does have a lot of sugar, which can provide some energy to the animals.

Subterranean clover:

Subterranean clover is a type of clover that deer avoid because it contains a lot of thistles. However, if the herd is starving and has no other options, they may consume small amounts of this type of clover.

Arrowleaf clover:

Deer typically avoid arrowleaf clover because of its thorns. Furthermore, this type of clover can contain high levels of poisonous alkaloids, which can harm a deer’s health.

Yellow clover:

Deer eat yellow clover because it is high in nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and other essential minerals. While most deer consume only a tiny amount of this type of clover, some individuals may graze extensively on it.

Japanese clover:

Japanese clover is high in sugar, which attracts deer. However, because this type of clover can contain harmful toxins, most animals should avoid it.

Does clover attract deer?

Clovers attract deer. In fact, it is one of the most common plants that deer eat. This is due to several factors. Clover is high in protein and fiber, both of which are necessary nutrients for deer. Second, clover provides nectar, which is essential in the diet of deer. 

Third, clover has a sweet taste that deer find irresistible. Fourth, clover is high in calcium and other minerals. Finally, clover is low in calories and has a low glycemic index. It does not raise blood sugar levels and provides energy to deer.

Do whitetail deer eat clover?

Clover is consumed by whitetail deer. In fact, clover is one of the most common browse plants consumed by deer. This is due to its high concentration of beta-carotene, an essential nutrient for both deer and humans. 

Clover is also high in other essential nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

However, it may also contain high levels of poisonous alkaloids. If you intend to feed your deer clover, make sure to first confirm the plant’s safety.

Do deer eat different parts of clover?

Deer have been observed eating various parts of clover, but the flowers and leaves appear to be the most popular. Researchers discovered that deer prefer to eat flowers over leaves. Here are some common clover parts and information on whether deer eat it or not.

Clover lawns:

The majority of people believe that clover lawns are harmful to deer. The reason for this is that the lawns contain many toxins and the leaves aren’t very nutritious. So, if you want to keep deer away from your clover lawn, don’t be concerned until it is the lawn.

Clover flowers:

The flowers are beneficial to deer, and they are high in beta-carotene, an essential nutrient for deer and humans. If you have clover flowers in your garden, be aware that deer will eat them all.

Clover seed:

The seeds are toxic to deer, and they have a high concentration of poisonous alkaloids that can get them sick. So, if you have clover seed open in your garden, don’t worry; deer won’t eat it.

clover leaves:

Clover leaves are consumed by deer, and they appear to prefer them over the flowers. Researchers discovered that deer overwhelmingly chose the leaves when given the option of eating a flower or a leaf from a clover plant. 

This is most likely because the leaves contain more essential nutrients and fewer toxins than the flowers.

clover grass:

Deer eat the clover leaves, and they seem to prefer them to the flowers. When choosing between eating a flower or a leaf from a clover plant, researchers discovered that deer overwhelmingly chose the leaves. 

This is most likely because the leaves have more essential nutrients and fewer toxins than the flowers.

4 reasons why deer eat clover

There are numerous reasons why deer may consume clover, but the following appears to be the most common:

To obtain essential nutrients such as beta-carotene and fiber:

Clover is eaten by deer because it is high in nutrients. Some clover species contain toxic compounds that deer can consume and digest. They may eat clover because it is beautiful lawn grass. 

To get rid of toxins in their system:

Deer consume various foods that contain toxins that can be harmful to them. Some species’ leaves, for example, have high levels of cyanogenic glycosides, which can be lethal if consumed in large quantities. 

To get rid of these toxins, deer may eat clover:

Deer may not like the smell or taste of some clover flowers for camouflage reasons (the flowers can look like other plants), so they may eat the leaves instead. 

Furthermore, some plant species resemble clovers in shape and color, so deer may eat a flower because it resembles a clover. (For example, the leaves of wild buckwheat, also known as “Aegopodium podagraria,” may reach those of wood covers.

Clovers contain a lot of energy:

Deer may consume clover to gain energy. Clover is a high-energy grass that can satisfy deer when consumed in large quantities. However, it contains many nutrients that deer may not like. 

Some species’ outer leaves, for example, contain high concentrations of cyanogenic glycosides (cyanide sugars), which can be fatal when consumed by deer.

When do deer eat clover? 

Clover is an excellent annual season abundant in the autumn and spring and is a favorite forage for whitetails. When they are young, deer may eat them, and they can eat clover when fully grown because they love to eat flowers. 

Deer may visit your garden to eat clover in the early morning and late evening when no one is around.

How long will deer eat clover?

Deer are herbivores, and their digestive systems are built to digest clover. A deer can consume all of the clovers in less than two hours. Furthermore, deer typically cannot consume a large portion of a clover plant at one time. 

As a result, an average-sized clover cannot sustain a deer for more than five hours without resting or eating other foods.

When a deer is rutting (breeding) around the time of clover fruiting, it can consume 30 plants or more in a single day. This much grass reduces weight loss to almost nothing. 

With these ideal conditions and proper eating equipment, most whitetails will feed on so much clover that they are entirely wasted within two days at most. 

Without losing any fat during this waist/rib expanding season, the deer are getting what they need as long as all the nutrients are consumed.

What is a deer’s favorite clover?

There are many different types of clover, but red clover appears to be particularly appealing to deer. Red clover contains a high concentration of lignans, compounds with numerous health benefits for humans. 

Cancer prevention improved joint health, and protection from estrogen-related cancers are among the advantages. Red clover is also high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins.

Deer appear to distinguish between red clover and other types of clovers, and they frequent these plants in more significant numbers. 

This could be because red clover contains a lot of protein and essential fats, and these nutrients help deer stay healthy and strong during the winter months when food is scarce. 

If you want to increase the presence of red clover in your garden, plant it in early spring before the deer becomes interested in other plants.

Final Thoughts 

Flowers and leaves of clover are consumed by deer. Few particular clovers are poisonous and not edible. But deer can finish your garden within a few hours, and they enjoy consuming clover. When consumed in large quantities, clover is a high-energy grass that can be pretty satisfying for deer.