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Deer and corn, a comic relief question.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 27, 2011 at 12:48 PM

So I was thinking the other day about the venison we harvest during our deer seasons here in SE Minnesota. Most of a deer's diet around here is corn out of the fields, so would it no longer be considered grass fed? Sure they graze in the fields, but you always have best luck hunting next to the grain fields. When we butcher, there is no marbling in the meat. It is the purest of red. I would be curious to find out if anyone has ever looked at the difference between farm raised grass fed deer, compared to wild in the corn belt.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on April 27, 2011
at 06:45 PM

Every deer I have ever eaten has no marble to speak of. I meant farmers plant it not to attract deer. Sorry.

7792d8e2ada34662a3226a7d1952940a

(900)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:44 PM

There is most commonly in the deer I have harvested corn in the stomachs and you do see it in the droppings.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:50 PM

True about hunters, but farmers don't "put out" corn for deer. Corn eaten by deer can't be sold. Farmers would keep deer away from it if they could, but building 10-foot-high fences around thousand-acre fields would cost far more than the amount lost to deer damage.

03281912f1cb9e4e771a8a83af302e3a

(1204)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:39 PM

they aso only eat the kernels. They don't get force-fed the silage and husks from the rest of the plant to cut cost. Acorns are mostly starch as well. I'm sure dried corn is a sweeter source. Great question!

7792d8e2ada34662a3226a7d1952940a

(900)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:39 PM

We don't have green grass in the winter, but I know what you are saying. Deer paw for acorns and dig bark off trees late winter here. This was more of a question if anyone has marbling in the venison they harvest. We do not, but I am wondering if in warmer climates where 2 crops can be done if there is any in the deer.

7792d8e2ada34662a3226a7d1952940a

(900)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:35 PM

Here in SE Minnesota, deer eat corn. Farmers leave corn out let it dry. Field dried corn is better money. Eating it year round, no but well into the hunting season. Different parts of the country get the grains out at different times. In the evenings, you will always see deer in the harvested fields pawing at the ground. Of course they eat acorns, grass and in the late winter you find them under cedar trees eating bark. I am a regular hunter, and live with the farmers. If you think deer don't eat grain, you have never talked to a farmer. 60 to 100 days to grow the corn, so under 20% of diet

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5 Answers

1
64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:17 PM

Corn is put out by farmers and lazy bait hunters, can't fault the deer for capitalizing on free food. Here in my area acorns and all types of grasses are the staple of the deer.

A lot of hunters bait an area with corn prior to hunting season and then remove it as it is illegal to hunt over bait. Rye grass is also used in this manner. Salt licks are another bait.

I see deer everyday and they are always in green grass until winter.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:50 PM

True about hunters, but farmers don't "put out" corn for deer. Corn eaten by deer can't be sold. Farmers would keep deer away from it if they could, but building 10-foot-high fences around thousand-acre fields would cost far more than the amount lost to deer damage.

7792d8e2ada34662a3226a7d1952940a

(900)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:39 PM

We don't have green grass in the winter, but I know what you are saying. Deer paw for acorns and dig bark off trees late winter here. This was more of a question if anyone has marbling in the venison they harvest. We do not, but I am wondering if in warmer climates where 2 crops can be done if there is any in the deer.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on April 27, 2011
at 06:45 PM

Every deer I have ever eaten has no marble to speak of. I meant farmers plant it not to attract deer. Sorry.

1
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:10 PM

Most of a deer's diet is corn? Really? Do they access to it year round? Only if people are puuting it out for them...

I would think that even during the days close to harvest, farmers are doing their best to keep the deer out of the corn.
http://www.ehow.com/how_7344272_keep-deer-eating-corn-plants.html

Also, deer don't do very well on a high corn diet (same acidosis as cows):
http://www.farmanddairy.com/columns/feeding-corn-to-deer-could-be-death-sentence/14324.html
http://www.farmanddairy.com/columns/feeding-deer-corn-is-not-the-best-thing-to-do/14293.html

03281912f1cb9e4e771a8a83af302e3a

(1204)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:39 PM

they aso only eat the kernels. They don't get force-fed the silage and husks from the rest of the plant to cut cost. Acorns are mostly starch as well. I'm sure dried corn is a sweeter source. Great question!

7792d8e2ada34662a3226a7d1952940a

(900)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:35 PM

Here in SE Minnesota, deer eat corn. Farmers leave corn out let it dry. Field dried corn is better money. Eating it year round, no but well into the hunting season. Different parts of the country get the grains out at different times. In the evenings, you will always see deer in the harvested fields pawing at the ground. Of course they eat acorns, grass and in the late winter you find them under cedar trees eating bark. I am a regular hunter, and live with the farmers. If you think deer don't eat grain, you have never talked to a farmer. 60 to 100 days to grow the corn, so under 20% of diet

0
Fa9f340eddbad9a544184c688fa4dcdd

(6433)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:32 PM

Disclaimer: I know nothing whatsoever about deer.

However (not to put too fine a point on it) why not just check any deer droppings you find for evidence of corn consumption? Or are true herbivores able to completely digest corn?

7792d8e2ada34662a3226a7d1952940a

(900)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:44 PM

There is most commonly in the deer I have harvested corn in the stomachs and you do see it in the droppings.

0
1bc18852894dad9d6dddfb3dfed49ab3

(341)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:30 PM

It is true deer is very lean. At least in late November. Maybe in September they are fatter?? If yes I'd assume the extra fat will be around kidneys or fat layer next to the skin. Meat itself won't probably have marbling.

0
03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:03 PM

I have no evidence, but as a rural dweller in one of the prime whitetail deer areas of the country, I have my doubts that deer eat a lot of kernels of corn. They definitely like to graze on young corn seedlings in the spring -- it's a grass, after all -- and they'll eat corn if it's lying on the ground, sure. But do they walk through dry cornfields, pulling ears off the stalk and eating the grain? Can't say I've ever heard of that being an issue. The worst deer damage I've seen in a cornfield was from a herd of them lying down for the night and crushing a large area of the field.

Further speculating, I'd guess that deer (like people) are most attracted to corn when it's still in the "sweet corn" stage. (Yes, field corn goes through a soft, sweeter stage too, though it's not nearly as sweet as the varieties that have been developed for human sweet corn consumption.) But at that stage, has the kernel developed the harmful anti-nutrients and so on that it'll contain at full maturity? I don't know. Later, when the kernels are fully mature, I suspect the deer would rather be munching some soft grass or clover.

Edited to Add: If you've never done it, stop by a cornfield late in the year, when it's turned brown, and steal an ear of corn, take it home, and try to use it. Every step, from getting the ear off the stalk, to shucking it (removing the husks), to shelling it (getting the kernels off the cob), to cracking or grinding it, will be harder than you probably guessed. Granted, a deer's jaws and teeth are better tools for the task than your hands, but it's still a lot more work than just leaning over and grabbing a mouthful of grass.

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