New Deer Repellants May Save Christmas Trees

Option holds potential for Christmas tree growers looking to protect many acres.

Published on: Dec 22, 2010

Many homeowners know that deer love to chew up the plants in their backyard gardens. Commercial Christmas tree growers know deer also love to munch on their valuable cash crop. But some researchers at N.C. State University are studying, not what deer love, but what the furry pests don't even like.

The researchers, led by area extension forestry specialist Jeff Owen, are finding that some inedible food byproducts, including the dried blood and egg powder products often used in bulk for pet-food flavorings, tend to repel the deer.

These products have a bad taste to deer and "the decaying smell actually elicits a fear response in the deer and keeps them away from the crops," Owens says. "We're continuing to look at similar products – like liver powder and fishmeal – to see if they work in the same way."

The products are also inexpensive, compared to the commercial deer repellants currently on the market. Owen notes commercial repellants cost $18 or more per pound but the dried blood and egg powder can be purchased in bulk for as little as $2 per pound.

Hearing that, some home gardeners might be tempted to try the new products to chase the deer from their back yards. However, Owen points out the new repellants products are mixed in bulk and then stirred into a spray solution. For that reason, homeowners would more likely be satisfied with commercial products.

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