The question always comes up: Why is your product better than corn? There are many answers to these questions but let’s just stick to the basics for now. First, corn is approximately two-thirds starch. Deer are ruminant animals whose digestive tract is set up to digest fiber. Providing starch in large quantities i.e. corn piles or feeders filled with only corn lead to a diet high in starch. Diets high in starch can cause rumen pH to get very acidic or acidotic. Acidosis leads to damage in the digestive system that can be permanent resulting in reduced intake, weight loss and in severe cases death. Once deer have experienced acidosis they are not as likely to return to the feed that caused it, meaning, less predictable deer. Second, corn is not a great protein source. Corn grain is 8-10% protein. Deer need to consume a diet that is approximately 16% protein. In certain times of the year, the native forage deer consume is higher in protein than corn, meaning corn should not be considered a protein supplement. To be clear, I am not saying that corn does not have its place in managing your herd, corn just needs to be managed appropriately. Corn is a great energy source that is around 90% digestible but that is about it. To be completely fair, the ruminant animal (deer) does need some starch in their diet in order to optimize digestive tract function and performance but there are better ways it can be provided when compared to feeding corn alone. The third and final topic for this part of the discussion is the attracting power of corn. Yes, corn grain does have an odor and deer will select it over other native feed sources but it does not draw deer off the beaten path like other feeds/attractants.
The follow-up question to the first one is: What makes BB2 different or in this case better than corn? First, BB2 is formulated to meet the energy requirements of deer using mainly digestible fiber and not starch. After making this statement this is where I usually get cut off with: But there is corn in BB2 I can see it, or If corn is so bad why is there corn in BB2? Or other variations of these questions. Remember earlier I said that some starch in the deer’s diet is good, it maximizes digestive function, maximizing performance. BB2 has been formulated to meet the starch requirement without causing acidosis. By using highly digestible fiber and the right amount of starch, the risk of creating digestive issues is minimal. Compared to corn, the ingredients used to formulate BB2 have been scientifically proven to have greater digestibility, leading to greater feed energy values. BB2 is at least 110% the energy value of corn alone. Second, the protein content of BB2 is greater than corn. The protein content of BB2 is guaranteed to be 18% at a minimum. The difference in protein content between corn and BB2 is very important to consider as deer need a diet that is approximately 16% protein. In comparing corn to BB2, it is important to remember that aside from water, protein and energy are the most important nutrients to provide your deer herd. BB2 has corn beat on both fronts. Third and last point to make is attraction. The attracting power is far superior to corn. As stated on the bag: “The aroma is super strong. The range is super long.” I can personally attest to this as when I am checking/freshening my feed sites I can smell BB2 from a long distance away and any good hunter knows if I can smell it walking into my feed site the deer can smell it from the neighbor’s property.
One other major consideration to make when comparing BB2 to corn is how deer choose food sources. Commonly deer are referred to as “browser’s” which in my opinion is a way to narrow of a term when considering how deer find or acquire preference for food sources. We should refer to deer as concentrate selectors meaning they are looking for the greatest nutrient density in the food sources they choose. This is also another advantage to BB2 over corn. As mentioned above BB2, has a greater energy value, protein, and mineral content per bite when compared to corn. In other words, each bite is more “concentrated” with nutrients and would be a preference over corn simply on that fact not to mention that BB2 has a greater palatability compared to corn. In addition, deer are prey animals they are eating while looking over their shoulder for predators and are used to consuming many small meals over the day so as not be out of their “safe house” for too long. In basic terms searching out nutrient density, a.k.a. concentrated food sources are breed into them. Also worth noting because of nutrient density, deer will consume less quantities of BB2 with greater results when compared to corn meaning less trips to feed sites to fill feeders. Overall, comparing corn to BB2 is not fair because deer are not only looking for sources of food like BB2, they are attracted to it.
Dr. Will Griffin, Ph.D
Big & J Ruminant Nutritionist