What Do You Do With Old Pumpkins?

Vivien Felker // November 11

So what do you do with your old pumpkins? Let's find out.

Don’t throw your pumpkins in the woods, do this instead.

As fall ends and holiday decor begins to pop up on shelves in stores across the country, those pumpkins you may have sitting on your porch shouldn’t just get chucked into the woods or the trash can. There are many better ways to dispose of and repurpose pumpkins.

What Do You Do With Old Pumpkins?

Can pumpkins be given to deer?

Posts often float around online encouraging the throwing of discarded pumpkins into the woods for wildlife. Although they may enjoy eating pumpkins, your local deer herd is better off without them because they can lead to the spread of chronic wasting disease. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, CWD can be spread when deer congregate unnaturally in one location, such as around a pile of food.

If an infected deer visits the area, they may contaminate the site with their feces, urine, and saliva which can then be transmitted to another deer. In addition to environmental contamination, the Centers for Disease Control said CWD can also be spread through direct contact. By keeping the orange gourds out of the woods, you will reduce the possibility of spreading CWD within your area.

This one varies from state to state. Almost every state has regulations in one way or another regulating baiting or feeding deer to prevent the spread of CWD. In many states, it’s illegal under all circumstances, and failure to follow these laws can bring hefty fines.

In cities and areas where conflict with wildlife such as bears is a concern, throwing attractants into the woods probably isn’t wise. Pumpkins may attract bears, mountain lions, or other unwanted visitors. Having found food in that location once before, these critters will feel more inclined to visit again. By feeding the wildlife, you start them on the path of becoming conditioned to receiving human food, which they will seek out more boldly. No one wants an entitled, hungry bear showing up on their back porch regularly.

What should be done with pumpkins?

Assuming your pumpkin isn’t decorated with inorganic substances such as glue and glitter, they can be composted. Pumpkins are high in nitrogen, making them a great addition to your compost pile. It’s recommended to smash your jack-o-lantern a bit to break it up before tossing it in.

Do farm animals eat pumpkins?

Yes! Many farms accept pumpkins through the fall months. Pigs especially love pumpkins and according to a Washington State University study, they’re also nutritious and beneficial for them. The study found that pumpkins contain high levels of protein and easily digestible fibers for pigs. Call around to local farmers, chances are they’d love to take your pumpkins off your hands and help lower their feed bills.

And now you know what to do with your old pumpkins!

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About the Author

Vivien Felker