Let’s first discuss what is Aflatoxin in Corn. Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring toxin produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus. The fungus can be recognized by a gray-green or yellow-green mold growing on corn kernels in the field or stored. This is why you must care when selecting where you purchase your supplemental deer corn or pelleted feed from.
When buying corn or Pelleted feed, quality is of importance. Corn from Co-Op Storage or Mills is usually a good place to buy corn and Pelleted feed since their corn is tested for Aflatoxins. Their corn is usually intended for cattle and specifically dairy cattle so the presence of Aflatoxin has to be in the negative presence or very minimal range of PPM. Elevated levels of Aflatoxin in corn can cause animals to become ill and even possibly die. In livestock and several wildlife species, aflatoxins can cause liver damage, immune system failure, and liver cancer.
Because deer have a complex ruminant digestive system, they don’t seem as susceptible to the effects of mycotoxins as other animals. It’s important when reading this statement to understand that more than deer frequent your feeders. This is why you should keep your feeders clean as well as have a quality feeding plan. Pouring feed onto the ground promotes the growth of Aflatoxin as well as many of your PVC or trough feeders. Keeping your feeders clean and free of mold will help promote a healthier herd and cut down on possible unwanted diseases.
The worry isn’t over once the corn is purchased. Hunters should store and feed corn carefully to assure that mycotoxins don’t increase. Since the toxin-producing fungi grow best under warm, humid conditions, hunters and wildlife enthusiasts need to guard against ever letting corn get wet. This is extremely important during the summer months with the heat and humidity levels. Later in the season when temperatures start to drop so do the chances of fungus growth.
When purchasing corn don’t be afraid to ask about Aflatoxin.