An unfortunate added cost will come to hunters this year as corn prices go up. For some Texas sportsmen and women, using corn to feed deer is a big part of the hunting process.
In an article on tylerpaper.com, Kent Mills, a nutritionist with Hi Pro Feeds out of Friona, Texas is quoted as saying “deer corn has become as much a part of Texas hunting as rifle shells and deer blinds. Prices may go up, but corn isn’t going away.”
Texas hunters buy an estimated 500 million pounds a year of corn, which represents only 3.5 percent of the corn production in Texas. The state only produces about 2 percent of the nation’s corn crop. Most of it comes from the Midwest, but neither the Midwest nor Texas are immune to the drought affecting more than half of the United States, which is getting worse.
These conditions have created the worst corn production in 25 years. On Monday, wholesale corn sold for $8.13 a bushel (about 56 pounds). That beats the previous high price set in 2011 by 26 cents. Although a 26 cent increase does not seem like much over the course of one year, an increase of $6.27 since 2005 does.
Corn was selling for $1.86 a bushel in 2005. Some blame the dramatic jump in price on the long-term increased price of ethanol, although the issue is up for debate. A massive amount of corn is produced throughout the United States, but demand for corn for the fuel additive is 4.9 billion bushels per year.
Mills points out that grocery stores have been selling bags of deer corn for $10.95 and $11 in Friona. “We have the potential to see it at $14 if this doesn’t change,” Mills told tylerpaper.com. While the lowest price for bulk deer feed is $500 a ton, corn is slightly cheaper.
The cost for bulk corn is $461 a ton. The market for deer corn in Texas alone is $115 million.
Getting corn for cheaper than that can be tricky. “If someone is offering a real good price, be careful. There is something wrong with it or it has aflatoxin,” Mills points out. Aflatoxin is a fungus deadly to birds, dogs, humans and other animals and is a known carcinogen.
Mills said there are other options to feeding deer corn, such as feeding cotton seed at just over $400 for a ton, though the downfall with cotton seed is that it doesn’t come in sacks and cannot be fed through a spin feeder.
Cull peas and beans are also an option. They are a small segment of the game feed market in places where quail exist. Again, there is a concern that peas may be tainted with aflatoxin.
“We used to get split peas for $6 a hundredweight, but the human market would get $9 or $10 a hundred. If you can find splits, they are good. The problem is they are small pieces and a deer can pick up something only so small,” Mills said.