Should I stop feeding deer corn if I’ve been feeding them corn for months?

By Grant Woods,

  Filed under:

← Grant's AnswersDeer Biology

I recently read that feeding deer corn during the winter can actually kill some of them due to the large amount of carbohydrates introduced to their diet. I’ve been feeding deer on my property for a few months during deer archery season in Ohio. Since I’ve been feed deer for a few months, should I worry about harming these deer by feeding them corn?

Appreciate your insight.



The key to answering your question is that deer where you hunt have been eating corn for a “few months.”  

Deer can get ill if they consume lots of corn when they haven’t had any corn or a rich carbohydrate diet for sometime.  This is because the bacteria in a deer’s gut does a lot of the digestive work.  There are many different species of bacteria in a deer’s gut and each one tends to help digest different food items.  If deer haven’t ingested corn in a while the species of bacteria necessary for digesting corn will have a substantially reduced population.  Therefore if deer ingest a lot of corn after not having access to it they won’t have the bacteria populations necessary to digest the corn.  Deer can literally die with a belly full of corn in these conditions.

I suspect you are fine to continue feeding the same amount of clean, mold free corn you’ve been feeding.

Enjoy creation,


February 21, 2016