What To Feed a Baby Deer: Tips To Feed A Fawn

If you have a permit to raise a deer, or you happen to catch one out in the woods, keep in mind that the diet of a fawn is very different from that of a domestic dog or cat. Thus, you must know exactly what to feed a baby deer.

Unlike cats or dogs, you don’t hear of many people with deer for pets. In fact, it’s illegal to raise a fawn without a prior permit. In case you find an orphaned fawn, inform a local wildlife rehabilitation organization for help providing the fawn with the care it needs.

You must exercise extra care, especially when they are young. In this article, we talk about the dietary needs of a fawn.

The Importance of Colostrum

This is one of the most vital components of a fawn’s initial diet. It is naturally obtained from doe’s milk and contains the important protein, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals necessary for the development of immunity.

What To Feed a Baby Deer

Colostrum develops the fawn’s immune defenses against diseases such as pneumonia, necrotic stomatitis, and scours. The colostrum must be fed regularly within the first 48 hours of the birth of the fawn.

You can bottle-feed a colostrum replacement to a newborn fawn, in case you have one to look after along with certain vitamins and capsules for nutritional value.

However, it is not advised to do so without consulting a veterinarian. They can determine the physical health of a newborn and recommend supplements accordingly.

What to Feed a Baby Deer in the Next 2 to 3 Days

After your fawn has had adequate colostrum, it is time to shift to a milk replacer. Some people recommend goat milk; however, be vigilant of the source, as it can act as a carrier of diseases such as Johne’s Disease.

As a rule of thumb, the fawn should be fed food that is 10% to 20% of its weight. For the first few days, it is recommended to feed the baby 5 to 6 times a day. You can also increase the number of feedings by reducing the proportion in each feeding session.

Be wary about the composition of the milk replacer used. It should at least contain 24% protein. Follow the instructions on the box so that you do not mess the proportions up.

The Next Few Weeks

Keeping in mind the weight of the fawn, the food proportions should vary accordingly. You can reduce the number of feedings per day every 10 days if the fawn is growing into a healthy and regular deer.

Thus, they can be fed around 3 to 4 times when they are 30 days old and 1 to 2 times once they are 45 to 50 days old.

You can also introduce some hay in the fawn’s diet once it is 1 to 2 weeks old and also include some ‘clean’ dirt, dandelions, clover, and other such greens. However, make sure that you don’t feed them more than 20% of their body weight.

For an older fawn (around 30 to 40 days old), you can start adding some solid ingredients to the milk replacer to achieve a thicker consistency. You can include baby cereal, baby rice, or even a banana in the milk. But make sure the consistency resembles that of a beaten-down batter.

Encourage the newborn fawn to drink ample water in a clean, nutritious water bowl. It is a major source of nutrition in the early stages of its growth.

Tips to Bottle Feed the Fawn

Now that you are well versed with what to feed a baby deer, there are certain things you should keep in mind while bottle feeding your fawn:

  • Warm the bottle before feeding by placing it in a bowl of warm water. It should be at the fawn’s body temperature, not too hot.
  • Make sure the bottle nipple is not too large. Feeding should be a slow process and gulping down more liquid at a time might cause stomach issues for your fawn.
  • Always hold up the bottle high at an angle so that the fawn has to look up to drink. This resembles the natural feeding position of the baby deer.
  • Stimulate the fawn’s stomach while feeding it by stroking gently. This helps stimulate the digestive system.
  • Fawns have to be trained to poop. Use wet wipes or wet cloths to rub its anus and stimulate bowel movements.
  • Bottle-feeding is both a dietary need as well as a bonding activity. With each feeding, your bond will increase. Gently stroke its head or body while feeding.

Read More: Homemade Deer Feeder – Free Plans & Instructions


If in case the fawn falls sick or is weak during birth, it is best to consult a veterinarian. Doctors often suggest keeping such tender fawns adequately hydrated.

In such cases, you can bottle-feed the fawn with electrolyte supplements along with plenty of water. These electrolytes consist of the necessary nutrients and vitamins to restore their health.

You can also do the ‘skin turgor’ test to find out if it is adequately hydrated. Pinch the fawn’s skin slightly and observe how it rests back. If it rests back normally and instantaneously, then the fawn is well hydrated.

However, if you notice the pinch marks on its back, it’s an indication that it needs more fluids. In such cases, you can feed it another bottle of the electrolyte after 3 to 4 hours.

Endnote on Feeding a Baby Deer

It is not easy to raise wildlife such as a fawn without the mother deer. When considering what to feed a baby deer, heed the dietary requirements of baby fawns.

Make sure you are feeding the baby deer in proportion to its body weight and an adequate number of times per day according to its age.

Although it is safe to follow the general diet mentioned in this article, it is always advised to consult a professional wildlife rehabilitator and a veterinarian when you have doubts about the feeding habits of the fawn or when you notice any unusual changes.

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