Is Corn Bad For Deer
Edward R. Forte
January 26, 2022
So says Jerry Feaser of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Jim Crum, deer biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, and Dr. Anne Ballmann, veterinarian and wildlife disease specialist for the National Wildlife Health Center.“By late fall, deer instinctively reduce their food intake and continue to do so through most of the winter,” Feaser says.“During that time deer rely heavily on fat reserves and their ability to conserve energy.”.During winter, deer lose 20 percent or more of their body weight by burning fat reserves.Crum understands that people mean well, but, “I see too many deer on my necropsy table with bellies full of corn.”.Just the right combination of microorganisms, enzymes, and pH enable deer to digest a normal winter diet of woody vegetation.When offered a sudden supply of corn, a deer’s digestive system doesn’t have time to adjust to a high carbohydrate diet.Some may simply slow down, get clumsy, and become easy prey to speeding traffic and hungry coyotes.Furthermore, Dr.
Ballmann cautions that supplemental feeding “concentrates deer in small areas where a variety of infectious diseases can be spread.” And in traveling to and from a supplemental source of food, deer, especially the young and the old, expend energy they can’t afford to lose.And create forest openings to stimulate the growth of the woody browse that sustains deer herds all winter long. .
The Do's and Don'ts of Feeding Deer This Winter
While the country is still in old man winter’s frozen grip, this spring green up is in sight and with it, the end of a 4 month long struggle for life.It is this struggle that we hunters start to become concerned about this time of year and as a result, we naturally feel obligated to intervene.Its late October your busy eating acorns and stacking up the energy and carbs before the rut, putting on the pounds of fat.You’re having fun running does throughout the southern Iowa corn fields and hardwoods, occasionally locking one down in your favorite thicket.Now let’s fast forward to late February, you now weigh 180 pounds, you have shed your antlers, your fat reserves are almost spent, there is no corn left in the fields, and the snow is a foot deep.Don’t get us wrong, deer are given the correct tools to survive winter, a thick insulated coat, an internal computer telling them what and when to eat, and the knowledge to find food and a warm bed in tough conditions.Even with all of these tools the facts still remain, a whitetail is running out of fat reserves, food sources are slim, and there is still a month to go before the buffet opens.East to west, states across the country have restrictions or have outlawed baiting and feeding deer …as much as you hate to hear it.When ruminants (deer) get ahold of large quantities of carbohydrates that are low in fiber, not normally not found in their diet this time of year, they lack the microorganisms in their stomach to digest the food.This results in a fall of pH, destruction of the digestion and absorption process, and eventual dehydration and death of the deer!“With all that corn laying in the fields after harvest any one of those states are giant minefields just waiting to kill deer” – this type of statement is exactly why the subject takes some explaining.Their diet consists mostly of woody browse this time of year, early successional species like blackberries and greenbriers, and saplings.So with this information you can now determine whether or not your neighbors feeding deer in their backyard are killing their “pets.” So yeah…now might be the time to break the news to that old, kind-hearted couple across the street.You can introduce a new food source in small amounts (around 10lbs over a period of a couple days, more or less according to deer density) successfully.Small amounts of the new food source will not cause a sudden shock and switch, resulting in a negative pH change and death.If the deer on your property are only given small and increasing amounts of the new food source over a long period of time, the gut flora will adjust and the introduction will be successful.You’re worn out and need protein and energy to repair recover your body condition and carry out normal everyday functions.The correct feed needs to supply the right amount of protein, fat, and that crucial fiber factor for similarity with woody browse.This feed is more easily digestible and meets the nutritional requirements by also supplying the two most prevalent and studied minerals in deer, Calcium and Phosphorous.If you batting around the idea of starting a feeding program this winter, you are already looking into the fine and detailed aspects on your deer hunting property.By providing quality cover and a sanctuary close to the feed, food plot, water, and block attraction, you know have a deer hunting hotpot.By providing quality cover and a sanctuary close to the feed, food plot, water, and block attraction, you know have a deer hunting hotpot.With every aspect of a deer’s needs supplied in this micro area, you have essentially created one of the best bow hunting sets imaginable.Other than the spread of disease, potential increased deer traffic can wreak havoc on the local habitat, making resources such as woody browse scarce.A good place to start is a trail camera survey and browse impact study get a grasp of you deer population and its effect on the habitat. .
Starch in Deer Diets – Feeding Deer Corn
However, too much starch, especially if consumed in a short time, results in a great deal of lactic acid being produced in the rumen.In addition to being low in protein and minerals, corn is very high in starch, and the rapid consumption of two to three pounds by a deer not used to it is enough to cause serious problems.Conversely, small amounts of starch provide valuable energy and can actually improve the digestion of forages by optimizing the microbe population in the rumen. .
Winter Deer Feeding
Cold temperatures, body warmth-stealing winds, and lack of quality food can all work against them and weed out the weaker individuals.Throughout the summer and fall, deer are hopefully able to gain enough body fat that they can make it through the low calories and cold conditions of winter.Obviously, bucks focus on breeding during the rut, which means they avoid a lot of the last-minute fall feeding opportunities, so they typically enter the winter with already-depleted bodies.Without good food sources throughout the winter, a buck’s body will start to cannibalize itself by converting their muscle tissue into energy.At that point, all of the calories ingested would have to build muscle mass back before allowing them to use minerals for antler growth, which means they certainly wouldn’t grow to their full potential.This would help them burn enough calories to stay warm over the winter and maybe even replenish some of the fat stores lost before their bodies have to resort to using muscle.Essentially, deer in northern areas just need to survive until spring, when abundant and nutritious green food sources return.Deer in southern areas may just need the additional nutrition to produce healthier fawns next year or bounce back from the rut quicker.Whitetails in highly forested areas consume woody tree browse to survive the bleakest time of the year.Their digestive system, which consists of a four-part stomach, is biologically designed to break down the high fiber content present in browse and provide the most nutrition possible from it.Think about a clear-cut area – within the next growing season, it is so dense with tender young tree branches and shrubs that you can barely walk through it, and it is all conveniently located within browsing reach for deer.Getting back to the beginning of the post, it seems like winter deer feeding would be beneficial for them, given the lack of good food sources on some properties.is eaten, bacteria in the deer’s rumen that can digest high-carbohydrate food rapidly multiply and produce a large amount of lactic acid.To identify a deer killed by acidosis, you’ll generally find them in good body health and with a rumen full of corn, grain, etc.If it doesn’t kill them, it can also cause permanent damage to their rumen stomach lining, which may affect their ability to digest in the future.As a result, many state wildlife agencies have put feeding bans into effect to limit the spread of such diseases.When you’re feeding deer during the winter, it is solely to help them survive until spring, whereas baiting during the season is often to attract them to a spot specifically to hunt them.Start applying only a small amount (i.e., sprinkling a gallon bucket over a large area) at a time to allow deer to find and get used to it.Continue this pattern of providing a few pounds of food every few days for 2 to 3 weeks, which will allow them (and their digestive systems) time to get used to it.In other words, don’t go out in mid-winter and dump an entire sack of corn into a field, or you run the risk of killing a deer or two.Providing a variety of different food sources within your deer feed mix is a good way to reduce the chance of acidosis.In the future, these areas will likely respond with a flush of raspberry, blackberry, and young trees to provide additional browse, which is the best deer feed for winter. .
Winter Feeding Tips: Helping Your Deer Herd After the Rut
As hunters are clearing shooting lanes, sighting in bows, checking game cameras and hanging stands, at the same time whitetail bucks are busy feeding on high-energy foods like legumes, acorns, and cultivated crops to pack on the additional 30 pounds or so that will be required to last them through the rut.During the rut most bucks will dramatically decrease food intake, in addition to spending tremendous amounts of energy chasing does.Much of the whitetails’ annual cycle is related to the length of day and the resulting effect on the deer’s pineal gland, which regulates hormone levels in the body.Whether it’s planted in a food plot, or fed at a feeding site, corn can be a great benefit to whitetails during winter.The weather is pleasant and the anticipation of the fall hunting season serves as the necessary motivation to plant food plots.With the exception of the brief period of intense energy expenditure during the rut, there is no more stressful time in the life of a whitetail buck than winter.Already depleted and worn down from breeding activity, bucks face the prospect of surviving the difficult winter months with a limited supply of food.Extremely harsh winters can make it impossible for bucks to gain back the body mass lost during the rut, leading to increased risk of disease or predation or, in some cases, death.At that point many deer managers are waiting for spring, looking forward to hunting for shed antlers, planting food plots, and warmer weather.Bucks that survived the hunting season face the prospect of many difficult months with poor forage and the constant caloric burden of maintaining body heat.When accumulated snow levels reach a point where deer have to expend tremendous energy to find their food there is a serious risk for winter die-off, particularly among bucks that are already depleted.In the southern United States, where the rut occurs later in the year, bucks have a few short months to scrape by and rebuild fat reserves before spring, and snow cover rarely lasts longer than a week.In northern climates deer spend upwards of five or six months after the rut battling against the cold, snow and food that is difficult to come by.When the temperatures drop and a whitetail’s metabolism slows, deer tend to remain on south and west-facing slopes, avoiding the exposure to extreme elements as much as possible.“In many parts of the country snow will cover up a lot of the browse and mast so supplemental feed really helps the deer out,” says Dr. Mike Messman of Cargill’s Record Rack division.In reality, though, deer are pretty hearty animals, and in all but the worst conditions and the deepest snow they will be able to access a known food supply. .
A Guide to Feeding Deer Throughout the Year
That’s why most hunters who are intent on growing the healthiest deer herd possible take matters into their own hands and implement a supplemental feeding program.A solid feeding plan doesn’t just consist of piling corn around the property year round and hoping for the best.Instead, feeding deer the right way involves providing the correct food in your feeders at the times that will maximize the results of your efforts.Feeding deer during the fall and early stages of winter is all about increasing fat reserves to sustain them through the rut and colder months.You’ll notice that Midwest whitetails are eating tracts of uncut corn straight off the stalk well into February.If it’s an extremely hot and dry summer, deer will not have an adequate supply of leafy greens and a pellet that is too high in protein can be tough for them to digest.If the summer is mild and rainfall is normal, a pellet with higher protein content can be more easily ingested with the natural vegetation.To move the feeder, simply pick it up and haul it to the next post, which is beneficial during the summer because you can get an accurate survey of your deer herd with some trail cameras located nearby.Since no legs extend past the feed ports like they do on a tripod feeder, bucks will not hit or damage their delicate antlers during the growing season. .
Is an insecticide that harms bees bad for deer?
Neonicotinoids are widely thought to play a role in the decline of bee populations, and research has shown some effect on birds.Berheim suspects dust from a nearby cornfield, or the corn and soybeans the deer ate, caused the contamination."That's the reproductive season for deer, so the exposure would occur right in spring and potentially result in fawn mortality," said South Dakota State professor Jonathan Jenks, senior investigator on the study.The researchers say similar effects have been seen in lab studies with mice, but this is the first time a possible immune system connection has been found in deer.Researchers tried to ensure the doses of insecticide given to captive deer were similar to what they might be exposed to in the wild, by using levels known to exist in streams and wetlands.They also tested 367 deer killed by vehicle collisions, illegal hunting or disease across the state of North Dakota from 2009 to 2017.But Berheim believes the findings are a clear call for more research on how a chemical designed to kill insects might be affecting mammals, as well. .
The Buck Stops Here: Don't Feed Deer Deadly Corn — ecoRI News
Christian Floyd, a natural-resource scientist at the University of Rhode Island, spotted an unusual white-tailed deer carcass while birding on the South County Bike Path in mid-January.The cause of the deer’s death was familiar to Floyd, who recalled a scene from his childhood,” I knew that rumen acidosis was responsible because my favorite goat, Maria, succumbed to the same fate after devouring the chicken feed.”.Ruminants, including deer, goats, and cattle, are a group of animals named after their specialized digestive system that allows them to eat large amounts of nutrient-poor plant material such as grass and woody shrubs.In this specialized digestive system, food first enters a chamber called the rumen, which is home to the microbial community — bacteria, protozoa, and fungi — solely responsible for breaking down the large quantities of ingested fibrous plant material. .