In 2016, corn growers faced challenges from mycotoxins, and those challenges seem likely to crop up again with this fall's harvest, according to Alltech.
The 2017 growing season was challenging across the U.S. Growers in different regions experienced varied weather conditions that could not only reduce yield but could also increase plant stress and lead to challenges with mycotoxins.
Corn silage samples from across the entirety of the U.S. have shown extremely high levels of mycotoxins, particularly deoxynivalenol (DON), type A trichothecenes (T-2), fusaric acid and fumonisin, Alltech said. It is important to note that once mycotoxins are present in the crop, they will not go away. There will be higher levels of mycotoxins on farms practicing mono-cropping of corn compared to the farms that are rotating crops or using deeper tillage methods.
Samples submitted to the Alltech 37+ mycotoxin analytical services laboratory between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1 show that grains contained mixtures of mycotoxins, including DON, fusaric acid and fumonisin. Forages such as corn silage, barlage and haylage also contained multiple mycotoxins in 2017, including DON, fusaric acid, T-2 and fumonisin.
Fumonisin is trending higher across all states as of this time and can have a negative impact on animal feed intake, gut health, liver function and immune response, Alltech said, noting that swine and horses are particularly sensitive.
Mycotoxins are a regular concern for producers because they influence feed quality and animal safety. They are produced by certain species of molds and can have toxic properties that affect animal health and performance.
“Understanding the risk of mycotoxins and combinations of mycotoxins, even at lower levels, allows livestock owners and managers to institute a management program for more optimum performance and health,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, nutritionist with the Alltech Mycotoxin Management team. “Testing feedstuffs and finished feeds is paramount to putting this management program in action.”
Mycotoxins are seldom found in isolation, and when multiple mycotoxins are consumed, they may have additive or even synergistic interactions that increase the overall risk to performance and health. As a result, an animal may have a stronger response than what would be expected if it was experiencing only a single mycotoxin challenge, Alltech said.
For feedstuffs harvested in 2017 and that are currently being fed, it is important to conduct a mycotoxin analysis that identifies the storage mycotoxins, including the penicillium and aspergillus mycotoxin groups, as there is potential for additional mycotoxins to develop during storage, Alltech noted. Proper mycotoxin management techniques can reduce the risk of mycotoxins coming from feed materials as well as help prevent the negative effects mycotoxins can on have animal health and performance.