Mycotoxin-related risks to livestock production continue to pose a challenge to the feed and animal sectors in most regions of the world in 2017, according to the latest "BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey" report. This conclusion emerged from more than 51,197 analyses conducted on 13,153 finished feed and raw commodity samples sourced from 69 countries from January to September 2017.
BIOMIN found three main trends:
1. Elevated levels of mycotoxins detected in the first half of 2017 persist in many regions worldwide.
2. While corn (maize) and its byproducts are commonly contaminated by mycotoxins, other feed ingredients, such as soybeans, appear to have a heightened risk of contamination.
3. Co-contamination of samples by multiple mycotoxins is quite frequent, with a full 75% of samples tested for multiple mycotoxins shown to contain two or more mycotoxins.
“The uptick in mycotoxin contamination levels recorded in the first half of 2017 compared to 2016 has continued through September,” said Dr. Timothy Jenkins, mycotoxin risk management product manager at BIOMIN.
In addition to detailing mycotoxin occurrence levels, the most recently published "BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey" report contains total risk level calculations per region. The total risk level expresses the percentage of samples with at least one mycotoxin above its threshold level — the parts per billion figure at which a particular mycotoxin could impair the health or performance of farm animals.
“Total risk level indicates the possibility of encountering a mycotoxin-related issue when feeding animals ingredients sourced from a particular region,” Jenkins explained. “The global nature of the commodity trade and local factors that contribute to mycotoxin contamination make it useful for each operation to test feed ingredients as part of a regular mycotoxin detection program.”
Corn from the Americas
“There is an ongoing high risk of the mycotoxins deoxynivalenol (DON), zearalenone (ZEN) and fumonisins in North America from the 2016 corn harvest, and we see a similar trajectory in the current harvest,” Jenkins noted.
Analytical results of 170 samples of 2017 U.S. corn revealed that 80% of samples contained DON, 48% contained ZEN and 58% contained fumonisins above the recommended risk threshold, BIOMIN said. “These numbers are closely related to wet conditions during silking and, in the case of fumonisins, some higher temperatures leading up to harvest,” Jenkins explained.
Jenkins added, “The risk in South American corn appears to be higher so far in 2017 compared to 2016 in all of the three main corn mycotoxins": DON, ZEN and fumonisins.
Analytical results of 3,012 samples of South American corn revealed that 79% of samples contained DON, 25% contained ZEN and 80% contained fumonisins above the recommended risk threshold.
South American soy
“Soybeans are usually at a lower mycotoxin risk than many other crops, but risk of DON in many Brazilian soybean samples and ZEN in Argentinian samples show an elevated risk for the last two years,” Jenkins noted.
Analytical results of 842 samples of 2017 soybeans from Brazil revealed that 94% of samples contained DON above the recommended risk threshold, and 61% of 484 samples of 2017 soybeans from Argentina contained ZEN above the recommended risk threshold.
Wet weather leading up to harvest in some parts of South America contributed to another year of higher mycotoxin risk in soybeans in some South American regions, BIOMIN pointed out.
Multiple mycotoxin presence
Consistent with results noted in the first half of 2017, 75% of samples analyzed contained two or more mycotoxins — presenting additional risks to farm animals. Certain combinations of mycotoxins are known to have synergistic effects that aggravate their negative consequences.
“Low-level multiple mycotoxin contamination leads to poorer feed efficiency and low growth rates in many animal species,” Jenkins said. “The synergistic effects and subclinical symptoms of mycotoxins may have a greater economic impact for the industry than severe mycotoxicosis.”
Jenkins offered several tips for mitigating the risk associated with mycotoxins. “First, test your feed ingredients. Second, avoid contaminated feed when possible. Third, pay attention to feed storage conditions,” he suggested.
“Even the most strenuous prevention efforts cannot stop mycotoxin contamination of feedstuffs from occurring. In the face of multiple mycotoxins in feed, the most reliable, safe and effective solution is to employ proven strategies against toxins in the intestinal tract of animals,” he advised.
The annual "BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey" constitutes the longest-running and most comprehensive survey of its kind. The results provide insights on the incidence of the six major mycotoxins in the agricultural commodities used for livestock feed in order to identify the potential risk posed to livestock production.