Kansas State University researchers are reporting on findings of a study in which they tested the effects of varying levels of fumonisin-infected corn on the growth performance of nursery pigs.
They said their work will help increase the safety of feeding corn as well as heighten swine producers' awareness of testing the quality of grain after harvest, the announcement from Kansas State said.
“Testing the corn after harvest is important, especially when we have had wet harvest conditions,” Kansas State Research & Extension swine nutritionist Mike Tokach said. “That becomes even more important if the wet harvest follows a period of drought.”
Fumonisin is a kind of mycotoxin that is more likely to develop in corn under those weather conditions. Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals that are produced naturally in certain types of fungi, usually in particular crops. Kansas State’s work with 20-60 lb. nursery pigs showed a decrease in the animals’ performance when their diets contain more than 30 parts per million of fumonisin, the announcement said.
“Up to 10 ppm, corn can be fed without impacts on pig performance,” Tokach said. “Up to 20 ppm, the corn can be fed for short periods, such as five weeks, without reducing pig performance.”
Johnson Rao, a Kansas State graduate research assistant who helped conduct the study, said levels of 30 ppm or higher should never be fed to pigs without a mitigation strategy.
“Based on our data, when a producer has a load of corn with high levels of fumonisin contamination, they should dilute it to a safe range for swine feed production,” he said.
Tokach added that producers who receive corn that tests high for fumonisin can also contact a nutritionist for guidance. “There are products that can be used to lessen the impact of some mycotoxins,” he said. “It’s important to seek professional guidance.”
High levels of fumonisin in corn were reported in Kansas and the Midwest in 2018 when the early portion of the growing season was hot and dry but then was followed by heavy rains late in the growing season, the university said. While the conditions were less ideal for fumonisin this year, the toxin still can be present.