Ask The Biologist

Beer Hops as Deer Feed?

Beer Hops as Deer Feed?

By Bob Humphrey

If you’re going to shoot that deer, at least buy him a drink first.

QUESTION: My wife works for a micro-brewery. Can I feed the deer the cooked hops from the beer?

ANSWER: That’s a darned good question. I didn’t know the answer (had never even considered it) so I went to the most reliable source I could find. Finding no reference whatsoever to deer eating hops, I then defaulted to the next best source: micro-brew internet chat rooms. Even they can’t seem to agree whether or not deer eat green hops. As for cooked ones, all I can say is put them out and see what happens.

Whatever you put out as supplemental feed for deer, it’s important that you do so properly. Deer have a very complex and sensitive digestive system. It takes ruminant microfauna (beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract that break down cellulose) several weeks to adjust to dietary changes.

If you were to dump a bunch of “hot” food in mid winter when deer are eating largely coarse woody browse, it could make them sick or even kill them. If you’re going to put out cooked hops I’d suggest you start slowly and mix it in with other types of food, like barley. And should you need an onsite consultation, I’d be willing to offer my services, which would naturally include sampling of the finished product.

— Recent Ask the Biologist Question:
All In the Family: How deer, elk, moose and caribou are related, at least according to biologists.
Find Out The Answer!

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd