Do Deer Like To Eat Grapes?

Whitetail Deer, Grapes, and The Damage They Can Cause

Whitetail deer are known for their love of sweet fruits, including grapes. These ruminants find grapes highly appealing and can cause significant damage to vineyards. While grapes provide essential vitamins and minerals for deer, they should be consumed in moderation to avoid any negative health impacts on the animals.

Vineyard owners often face challenges in protecting their grape crops from hungry deer. Using repellents, fencing, and other deterrents can help reduce the damage caused by these persistent animals. It is essential to find effective measures that strike a balance between protecting crops and maintaining harmony with wildlife.

Why Do Deer Love Grapes?

Deer are known for their love of grapes, both the fruit and the vines. The main reason for this attraction is the sweetness of grapes. Deer have a natural affinity for sweet-tasting foods, making grapes an irresistible treat for them. Additionally, grapes are rich in vital vitamins and minerals that help to fulfill the nutritional requirements of these animals, further enhancing their appeal as a food source.

However, it is essential to remember that feeding grapes to deer should be done in moderation, as excessive sugar consumption can have adverse effects on their health. Fruits like grapes should be considered an occasional treat similar to carrots and not included regularly in their diet.

Ways To Keep Deer Out Of Vineyards

Deer can cause significant damage to vineyards, leaving grape growers searching for effective ways to keep them out. Installing a deer fence is one of the most reliable deterrents.  An 8 foot tall helps to ensure that deer cannot jump over it and get to the grapevines. Deer can jump much higher than most people would expect so plan accordingly.  A fence is a large expense so make sure its plenty tall enough to keep away from your grapevines.  

Deer repellents such as sprays, powders, or other devices can be a much more budget friendly, but less permanent solution.  Using deer repellents with natural ingredients such as garlic and pepper can also help to ward off deer from vineyards.

Another option to consider is using dogs to patrol the vineyard, as they can effectively frighten deer away. However, not all dogs are suitable for this job, and they must be kept within a fenced area to keep them from roaming. Don't forget that birds can also pose a threat to grapevines, so bird nets may be necessary. Additionally, using scarecrows or shiny objects can deter birds, although using physical barriers is usually more effective.

In summary, a combination of fencing, repellents, and dogs can help keep deer out of vineyards. Implementing a deer management strategy is essential for grape growers to protect their valuable crops. 

Electric And Traditional Fencing

Deer are notorious grazers that can cause significant damage to vineyards, including eating grapes and destroying grapevines. One effective way to protect your vineyard from these unwelcome visitors is by using electric or traditional fencing.

Electric fencing is a popular choice as it does not disrupt the aesthetics of the vineyard, while effectively deterring deer with a harmless shock. On the other hand, traditional fencing, such as wooden or wire mesh fences, provides a physical barrier, but may impact the natural beauty of the vineyard and can be quite expensive. Ultimately, the decision will depend on your priorities and budget.

Using Wire Mesh Fencing

Deer can be quite a nuisance in vineyards, causing damage to grapevines and reducing crop yields. One effective way to keep deer out of vineyards is by using wire mesh fencing. This type of fencing is strong and durable, making it difficult for deer to break through or climb over.

When installing wire mesh fencing, it is essential to ensure that the fence is at least 7.5 feet tall to prevent deer from jumping over it. Additionally, it is recommended to bury the bottom of the fence at least a foot underground to prevent deer from digging underneath. This method provides a physical barrier that is not only efficient but also environmentally friendly, as it does not require the use of chemicals or harm to the deer population.

Deer Repellents

Deer repellents are an option for growers to protect their vineyards from deer damage. These chemical solutions typically work by eliciting a fear, pain, or discomfort response in deer, and many are made from natural ingredients like garlic and pepper. Some of the most effective repellents contain rotten egg formulations or dried blood, while those containing capsaicin can be effective if applied in high concentrations. It is important to remember that repellents may not eliminate damage entirely, but they can help reduce it to acceptable levels.

However, deer repellents may not be a foolproof solution due to factors such as the lack of alternative food sources, deer habituation to the field, and the need for frequent reapplication. Additionally, the efficacy of predator urine and fecal matter based repellents is highly variable. Growers must be prepared to reapply these repellents after rainfall or irrigation and on new vegetative growth to maintain their effectiveness. Despite these challenges, using deer repellents can be a helpful tool in the overall strategy to protect vineyards from deer damage.

There are also some deer repellant devices available that emit signals such as an ultrasonic emitter.  They use solar panels to charge their batteries and emit ultrasonic sound that will keep most deer and other animals away from your grapes.

The Effect Of Grapes On A Deer's Health

Deer are known to enjoy a variety of sweet fruits, including grapes. These small, delicious fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals essential for a deer's health, such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron, as well as Vitamin E. This vitamin plays a vital role in maintaining a deer's immune system, while the protein present in grapes contributes to the growth and development of their bones, muscles, antlers, and hooves.

Although grapes offer several health benefits for deer, they should not be fed in excess. The high sugar content in grapes can be harmful to a deer's digestive system, leading to an upset stomach and even diabetes. To ensure that deer reap the benefits of this fruit without risking their health, feeding them around 10-15 grapes per week is recommended.

Risks Of Feeding Deer Too Many Grapes

Feeding deer grapes might seem like a harmless gesture since they indeed enjoy them. However, it's important to be cautious and not provide an excessive amount. Grapes contain high sugar levels, which can be harmful to deer if consumed in large quantities.

Their digestive systems are not designed to process high amounts of sugar, which can lead to an upset stomach or even diabetes. To prevent such health risks, it's best to limit their grape intake to about 10-15 grapes per week. Offering grapes in moderation ensures that deer can enjoy a healthy, balanced diet.

Is It Safe For Fawns To Eat Grapes?

It is safe for fawns to eat grapes, as their digestive systems are quite sturdy and capable of adapting to new diets within a few months. Unlike many young animals with fragile digestion, fawns can eat the same foods as their adult counterparts, with no cause for concern. However, moderation is key, and grapes should only be given to fawns occasionally.

This article was updated on May 26, 2023