Corn is What Most Hunters Use
Corn is what most wildlife lovers offer deer. Even though it is one of the poorest types of deer feed available. It is not beneficial just because it is cheap and labeled as “deer corn”.
Corn is low in protein and high in carbohydrates. With approximately seven to ten percent protein, corn does not provide adequate protein levels. Bone and muscle development require higher levels. However, corn is a great energy supplement during very cold periods of the winter.
Deer Need Protein
In order to maintain rumen function deer must obtain at least 6 to 7 percent crude protein in their diet. Inferior animals and poor antler development will result from a diet of less than 10 percent protein. Therefore a daily diet of 12 to 16 percent protein for is best for optimum development of bone and muscle. During antler growth and lactation protein content should be 20 percent. This is not to be fed as the total diet. Instead as a supplement to the natural diet during periods of high stress. Such as antler development, late states of gestation and during lactation.
Maintain the Rumen
Corn is rapidly digested by specific rumen microbes that feed largely on starch. The pH in the rumen can drop from the acids produced by this fermentation process. Consumption in large amounts, cause a decrease in the microbes responsible for fiber digestion. This is due to lack of food and decreased pH.
The rumen microbial populations shifts the longer corn is consumed. The starch digesting microbes are now a higher percentage. This lowers the pH microbes. If this process occurs gradually, the deer’s rumen will adjust and few problems will occur. But at least some forage or fiber must be present in the diet. Deer need two to four weeks of feeding on a new food source to establish the necessary microbes. It can’t happen in just a few days during a snowstorm.
The deer return to a high fiber diet if the corn is no longer available. When this happens the rumen microbial population cannot effectively digest the fibrous foods. Until the rumen population can adjust to the high fiber diet the deer will effectively have little to no nutrients.. In essence, a type of starvation occurs.
Like what you see here? If so, click here to read more great hunting, outdoor, and shooting articles by Chris Edwards. Also, check him out on Twitter (RAKS & Big Red Outdoors), Facebook (RAKS & Big Red Outdoors) and on Instagram.
Visit the RAKS™ Store for all your deer supplement, attractant and apparel needs.