Are You Feeding Your Game Toxic Corn?
By: Brooks Milling
Not too long ago it became legal to hunt deer over bait in Alabama if you buy the required permits. Before hunting over bait was legal, many landowners or hunters fed the game animals they were interested in pursuing, outside of the season. Nowadays, I’d be willing to bet that on almost every rural block of Alabama land greater than 20 acres, there is a feeder of some type or a feed site, where somebody pours food on the ground. The most common type of feed I see people use, whether for ducks, deer, or turkeys is corn. “Yella a-kerns” is how I’ve heard the old timers describe it. They may or may not have used it as “encouragement” rather than bait. Corn and other grain feeds are susceptible to developing aflatoxins, which are chemicals that develop from some fungi in the Aspergillus genus. It grows on the supplemental grain feed. When consumed by animals, these aflatoxins can cause harm to the wildlife on your property. It seems to cause birds more damage than mammals. Yet, deer that had regularly consumed feed with high levels of aflatoxins are shown to have diminishing health. Also, there are more wildlife visiting these feed sites other than game. Many different types of birds such as robins, thrashers, blue jays, cardinals, etc. utilize feed as part of their diet as well. These smaller birds have a great risk of mortality if they continuously eat the contaminated feed. One other thing to note is the reason aflatoxins appear more in wild game feed. This is because livestock have stricter regulations on aflatoxin levels. If you are feeding, the fungus that produces these aflatoxins grows much faster in the summer, so the winter is best time for supplemental feeding. The longer your feed stays on the ground, or in the feeder without being consumed, the more toxic it becomes. Another good measure is to wash your feeders. You can see the congestion and build up in them especially if it gets moist inside. It is fun to have animals come to a feeder so you can enjoy observing them on your property, but keep in mind that you could potentially be causing more damage to the creatures on your property than you know.
AGENT CONTACT INFO
Name: Brooks Milling