Livestock producers urged to watch feed for high mycotoxin levels

Livestock producers are being asked to monitor their animals for poor feed intake as well as reduced milk or meat production after an examination of crops harvested in Canada last year.

An Alltech study has indicated a high risk of mycotoxins in total mixed rations and silage.

The study of total mixed rations and silage came after the Alltech Mycotoxin Management team looked at corn, spring wheat, barley and triticale samples from across Canada as part of their 2016 harvest survey.

According to the report, of the 45 total mixed ration samples taken across the country, Type B trichothecene mycotoxins, including Deoxynivalenol (DON), were present in 80 percent of the samples, and fusaric acid was present in more than half.

The combination of DON and fusaric acid can result in a high risk equivalent factor that can be toxic to animals.

Dr. Max Hawkins, a nutritionist with Alltech tells Rural Roots Canada the results showed much higher levels of mycotoxins than expected.

“The mycotoxins that are produced are very stable molecules they remain there for a very long time as animals ingest those we know that it can affect feed intake, growth efficiency, muscle deposition, milk production and mainly one of the big things is immune response that an animal has to fend off secondary health challenges,” said Hawkins.

He says livestock producers need to keep a close eye on their herds and feed.

“They really need to do some testing to find out what levels of mycotoxins that they’re dealing with so we can get better handle on the risk challenge there is out there and then monitor that through storage because storage becomes such an issue because mycotoxin levels can increase during storage times.”

Hawkins says these mycotoxins can be traced back to soil born molds, which are produced under certain climatic conditions, one thing all mycotoxins have in common is a need for warmth and the timing of it.

“If it happens more closely around flowering and pollination time and then again just prior to harvest is when it really determines which molds are going to be more prevalent and therefore we will know which mycotoxins will be more prevalent.”

Alltech tested 45 total mixed ration samples between June 1 and November 30 in 2016.