Inconsistent weather patterns this past summer wreaked havoc on the 2015 North America crop, producing irregularities in plant growth that now put swine, poultry, dairy and beef cattle at high risk for mycotoxin exposure, according to Alltech’s North America Harvest Analysis.
Alltech’s annual study surveyed over 250 samples of North American corn, corn silage, and wheat crop from across the United States and Canada from September to November 2015, testing for mycotoxin contamination to determine the risk posed to both monogastric and ruminant animals. The results of the analysis show that cattle are at the greatest risk for exposure, with an average 5.6 mycotoxins per corn silage sample. 71 percent of samples tested at high risk to dairy and 59 percent tested at high risk to beef cow performance. The risk for monogastrics is lower, but still signifiant; corn averaged 3.1 mycotoxins per sample, and the wheat crop averaged 2.9 mycotoxins per sample.
Scientific literature shows that on average, dairy cows may produce 1.34 pounds (0.61L)/milk/day less when consuming mycotoxins. Additionally, milk somatic cell count (SCC) may increase by 48.8 percent. With this loss in performance and considering current milk prices, producers could see an estimated reduction in profitability per cow at $67.27 over one lactation.
This year’s corn crop has caused a reduction of 6.8 grams per day in average daily gain and an increase of 0.5 percent feed conversion rate (FCR) in nursery pigs. Broilers were also affected, and may exhibit a reduction in .2 pounds in carcass weight per bird. Additionally, FCR may increase by approximately 4.7 percent, causing an extra 2.5 days to reach desired market weight.
“It is important for producers to understand the synergistic effects toxins can have when multiple are present in feed, causing an influx in animal and rumen health challenges,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, Alltech Mycotoxin Management team nutritionist. “Management practices to prevent exposure are always the best course of action. Producers should look to test feed samples at harvest and prior to feedout to identify the risk posed to their animals.”