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Can Deer Smell Corn? (And can they Eat It?)

Research shows that deer are able to smell corn from up to 300 yards away. They especially love Indian corn.

Deer standing in field of corn

Deer have very acute senses. Their sense of smell is considered nearly as good as a dogs. This strong sense of smell helps deer find food.

They are able to smell food from miles away. Furthermore, a large part of their brains functions is developed to receive an interpret these scent impulses.

Deer are herbivores meaning that they feed on plant materials. Deer are able to digest corn comfortably, although too much of it can cause bloat.

How to Protect your Corn from Deer

Deer will seek out the corn in your vegetable garden. To protect it from deer, the best thing to do is maintain well-secured fences around the garden.

Deer are quite intelligent creatures. Although a strong fence will usually be sufficient deterrent, they can be sneaky, and have surprisingly long necks. So, ensure the fence is a good 4 to 6 feet out from your vegetables.

Deer jumping over fence
Deer can jump up to 8 feet (244cm) so they can get over most fences

Can a Deer Survive Solely on Corn?

Dear can comfortably eat and digest corn. Corn however should not be used as their primary source of food since it can cause bloat which can be deadly for ruminants like deer.

There have been various reports of deer dying from eating a lot of corn. Although deer love corn, it is advisable not to feed them a diet of corn alone. Corn should only be used as a food supplement for deer.

This is because corn is a fermentable carbohydrate. Corn contains a lot of starch in it and is known to cause bloating when introduced to the body at a very fast rate. 

Evidence in the wild shows that hungry deer can die in a day after feeding on large amounts of corn. Excessive consumption of corn at a very short period of time is also known to cause acidosis.

Benefits of Corn for Deer

Corn is rich in various minerals and nutrients. It is also rich in fiber which is helpful for their digestion.

Various tests show that corn is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. These are helpful in protecting body cells from damage and the prevention of diseases including heart disease.

Corn also contains carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that are good for deer’s eyes.

Corn contains other nutrients like vitamin B, F and K, together with other minerals like magnesium and potassium that are useful for body development.

Since corn is a starch vegetable, it contains sugars and carbohydrates that are helpful in maintaining blood sugar levels. It is however important to note that one should not over eat corn as it can lead to dangerous blood sugar levels even in deer.

deer chewing grass
Deer are grazers, they eat grass, seeds, berries, and other foliage

Is Excess Corn Harmful to Deer?

Excess corn is harmful to deer health. Deer have been known to die after feeding on excess amounts of corn.

Corn is a starch vegetable and is notorious for causing bloating to animals. After feeding on a lot of corn, it ends up in the stomach where it starts ferment causing a build-up of gases.

This fermentation leads to the development of acids that begin burning away the walls of the stomach. 

The excess gases in the body also strain the stomach walls pressing against other important organs which might cause them to fail. If the gases don’t find a way to escape, the digestive system might end up exploding which leads to certain death for the animal.

Excessive consumption of corn also leads to acidosis. Signs of acidosis include reduced feed intake, weight loss, excessive diarrhoea, an increased in temperature, pulse rate and respiratory rates. It is often fatal when not treated in time. 

To prevent this, avoid feeding deer a lot of fermentable carbohydrates in one sitting. Such carbohydrates like corn should be used primarily as emergency food and additives to their normal feeds.

If you’re worried about corn causing bloat in your own animals, please consult your vet as soon as possible.

The exact laws vary between jurisdictions, however, it is illegal to bait animals while hunting in many states, since the practice leads to an unnatural change in the animal’s behavior and the bait may spread parasites or diseases.

Most states consider using bait to attract wildlife as illegal. When caught one might be subjected to a large fineor even the loss of your hunting license depending on where you’re from.

It is argued that baiting animals leads to a change in their natural behaviors. The animal becomes dependent on artificial feeds and might stop feeding on their natural sources of food.

The feeds might also contain parasites which might lead to the spread of diseases. This is especially a problem when it comes to deer because deer are herd animals.

This means that if one animal is infected the likelihood of it spreading the disease to other animals is high. This might lead to the extermination of the whole herd.

Feeding of wildlife can also make wild animals less wary of humans. Over time, this can increase the chances of them coming into contact with humans and potentially causing problems.

Artificial feeding of animals might also lead to an overpopulation of the animals in their feeding area. This causes damage to the environment as it becomes stripped of plants.

Deer in young forest
Deer are voracious eaters and are culled in many parts of the world to protect commercial forestry and farms

How can you Properly Feed Corn to Deer?

Corn should only be used to supplement the primary feed of the animal. It should not be used as the animal’s main food. However, in extreme cases it can be used as emergency food.

The proper way to feed corn to deer is to crush it and combine it with the rest of their feeds. This is to ensure that a controlled amount of corn is fed to the animal at one time. Corn might have various benefits but might be fatal when taken in excess.

It is advisable to fence off corn farms especially if you live in an area where deer are available in large numbers.

Deer are known to raid corn farms. When they do this, they destroy the plants which leads to huge losses to the farmers. It also might be fatal to the animal because excessive corn consumption is harmful to them.

Conclusion

Deer love corn and can smell it a long way off. Gardeners need to be careful to keep the corn behind deer-proof fences to protect it from opportunistic ungulates making their way onto their property! It’s also good to shield the corn because it’s not particularly good for the deer’s digestive system either.

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