Take a look in any bag of seed, ours included, and you are very likely to find a great deal of corn included in the ingredients. Maize, or corn, is a very popular agricultural crop enjoyed by many species of animals that roam or fly here in North America and is extremely high in carbohydrates and fiber, adding a certain level of nutritional value to those that consume it.
One common misconception here in the birding world when it comes to bird seed is that many folks believe given its cheap pricing, corn is simply used as a filler in many bags of seed. While some seed producers may use more corn than necessary to bloat their bottom lines, our seed blends contain just the right amount.
Additionally, when treated properly, corn is a vital part of a no-waste bird seed product. When the kernels are dried properly, they will not grow or sprout if sprinkled or knocked on the ground by feeding birds. When it comes to safely and properly drying out corn kernels, there are two methods generally used by producers, and one is much better than the other…
In roughly 98% of seed bags, you will find in big box retailers or in discounted bird seed one of the main ingredients is cracked corn. In addition to birds, cracked corn is also used to feed agricultural cattle and wildlife, where the law allows.
The process for cracked corn is very much as the title suggests, the kernels are typically dried out on the cob, removed and cracked in a grinder of some kind. The problem with cracked corn is that often the process is expedited a little faster than it should be. As we have spoken about in the past, the drying process for ingredients such as corn or peanuts is vital in stopping the spread of disease and alleviating the risk of toxins such as aflatoxin and vomitoxin.
Steel Cut Corn
The alternative to cracked corn is the precise process of steel-cut corn. Without the dusty, crushed appearance of cracked corn, steel-cut corn is both a safer alternative and more attractive to wild birds. The process of cutting corn with a steel knife is one that may seem slightly more arduous but is one that comes with exponential benefits for our birds.
Given the process for this method of cutting corn, the drying process is a more intensive one than for cracking corn kernels. By allowing more time for the corn to dry out, the risk for exposure to toxins drops significantly.
Additionally, steel-cut corn, one of the ingredients found in many of the blends of seed we sell, is 100 percent Bee Friendly. What that means is because of the ardent processes our seed ingredients endure; they are gathered and produced without the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. These pesticides, widely used in various insecticides not only prove to be harmful to our birds but other wildlife as well. These pesticides are believed to be the leading factor leading to the decimation of our bee populations.