8 Animals That Eat Corn

Corn is a staple in the diet of various animals, from small rodents to large livestock. Both wildlife and farm animals relish corn, often consuming it directly from fields or as part of a mixed feed.

Key Takeaways

  • Raccoons commonly hunt for corn at night, making them notorious for crop damage.
  • Agile and opportunistic, squirrels can cause significant losses to corn yields.
  • Deer are graceful animals that feed on corn, leading to conflicts with farmers.
  • Various wild birds enjoy corn kernels and can be found feasting in cornfields.
  • Rodents, like mice and voles, often take advantage of corn crops for sustenance.
  • Wild turkeys forage in fields and can be seen consuming leftover corn after harvest.
  • Domestic farmyard fowl such as chickens and turkeys also consume corn as feed.
  • Livestock including cattle, sheep, and goats benefit from corn in their diet.
  • The presence of wildlife poses risks to corn economy, requiring protective measures.
  • Understanding the pros and cons of corn in animal diets is essential for effective management.

Explore how other animals interact with plants on animals that eat flowers and animals that only eat plants.

1. Raccoons: Nighttime Corn Bandits

Raccoons, with their distinctive black masks and ringed tails, are often the culprits of nighttime raids on corn fields. As nocturnal animals, they take advantage of the darkness to become prolific corn pilferers, feasting on the sweet kernels with remarkable dexterity.

  • Raccoons prefer the cover of night to feast on crops, minimizing the risk of being spotted by farmers.
  • Their strong sense of smell and agile paws make raccoons adept at finding and consuming corn.

Discover more intriguing wildlife habits, such as those of ladybugs and fish-eating animals, on 10 facts about ladybugs and animals that eat fish.

2. Squirrels: Agile Corn Thieves

Squirrels are another common visitor to cornfields, exhibiting remarkable agility as they navigate through the plants to commit corn theft. These nimble rodents not only eat the corn on the spot but are also known to bury some of it for future use.

  • With their acrobatic skills, squirrels can easily climb stalks and strip the corn cobs of their kernels.
  • Practicing a behavior known as caching, squirrels store away corn for leaner times, displaying foresight in their survival strategies.

For further information on animal behavior, check out our guides on the various diets and habits of creatures in the animal kingdom.

3. Deer: Graceful Grazers of Corn

Deer are majestic creatures that often find themselves in corn fields, drawn by the promise of a nutritious meal. Their grazing habits can significantly affect corn crops, as they can consume and trample large areas of farmland.

  • Attracted to the high nutritional value, deer frequent corn fields, particularly during early growth stages when the plants are most tender.
  • The impact of their grazing can be substantial, leading farmers to implement various deterrents to protect their crops.

Understanding the feeding patterns of deer and other wildlife is vital for managing their interactions with agricultural lands.

4. Wild Birds: Avian Corn Lovers

Songbirds, crows, and quail are just a few examples of the wide variety of wild birds that hold a fondness for corn. These avian corn lovers play a unique role within the ecosystem, both as consumers and as seed dispersers.

  • Songbirds often feast on the kernels, while crows can cause noticeable damage to corn ears due to their size and appetite.
  • Quail, along with other ground-feeding birds, scavenge for fallen corn, thereby participating in the natural cleanup of fields.

Their presence in the fields contributes to the complex tapestry of wildlife interactions within agricultural landscapes.

5. Rodents of the Corn: Mice and Voles

Wild mice and voles are small, yet significant rodents that inhabit cornfields, where they can cause considerable damage by consuming and hoarding corn kernels. Their activity often goes unnoticed until harvest when the full extent of their impact is revealed.

  • These rodents not only feed on corn but can also harm the plants’ growth by gnawing on their stalks and roots.
  • Their burrowing habits contribute to soil disruption, which can affect the overall health of the corn crop.

Efficient farm management includes measures to control these rodents and minimize their impact on agriculture.

6. Wild Turkeys: Foragers of The Field

Wild turkeys are notable foragers, often drawn to corn fields where they become enthusiastic corn-eaters. Their presence in these agricultural settings highlights their adaptable foraging behavior and diverse diet.

  • With a natural diet that includes a variety of foods, wild turkeys take advantage of cornfields to supplement their intake.
  • They typically forage on the ground, where they can find spilled kernels as well as insects and other small creatures amidst the corn.

Their foraging contributes to the ecosystem’s balance by helping in seed dispersal and controlling insect populations that could otherwise harm the crops.

7. Farmyard Fowl: Chickens and Turkeys

Chickens and turkeys, as domestic birds, are commonly raised in farmyards where corn is frequently a staple of their diet. The grains provide essential nutrients and energy, making it a popular feed choice for poultry farmers.

  • Corn is favored for poultry feeding due to its high carbohydrate content, which is beneficial for the energy needs of chickens and turkeys.
  • The grain also contributes to the desirable taste and texture of poultry meat and is instrumental in producing rich, golden egg yolks.

Optimal poultry health and productivity are often tied to a balanced diet that includes corn as a significant component.

8. Livestock Love Corn: Cattle, Sheep, and Goats

Livestock such as cattle, sheep, and goats often have a portion of corn included in their diet due to its substantial nutritional value. This energy-rich grain helps meet the dietary needs of various farm animals and is a key element in livestock feeding programs.

  • Cattle are particularly fond of corn, which can be fed as silage, grain, or part of a mixed ration to support weight gain and milk production.
  • Sheep and goats also benefit from corn in their diet, especially during periods when they require additional energy, such as during lactation or growth.

While corn can be greatly advantageous for livestock, it’s important for farmers to balance it with other feed components to ensure overall animal health and well-being.

Wildlife and Corn Economy: Risks and Protections

The wildlife impact on agriculture, particularly through corn consumption, represents a challenge for farmers trying to protect their yields. Effective crop protection is essential to safeguard the economic value of corn fields from wildlife-induced losses.

  • Strategies like fencing, scare devices, and wildlife repellents are commonly employed to deter animals from entering corn fields and causing damage.
  • Farmers may also adopt habitat management and control measures to reduce wildlife populations near agricultural areas.

These preventive actions are crucial for maintaining the stability of the corn economy while coexisting with local wildlife populations.

The Pros and Cons: Corn in Animal Diets

The inclusion of corn nutrition in the diets of animals comes with both benefits and potential drawbacks, affecting animal health and requiring careful diet considerations. Corn provides essential nutrients but must be balanced with other foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies or excesses.

  • Corn is energy-dense, offering carbohydrates, some protein, and essential fatty acids that are beneficial for growth and energy.
  • However, relying too heavily on corn can lead to an imbalance in the diet and may contribute to obesity or other health issues in animals.

Responsible feeding practices involve integrating corn with a well-rounded diet to support the overall health and productivity of animals.