Keeping Mycotoxin Threats in Mind This Harvest

Lizzy SchultzAlltech, Animal Health, Health, Nutrition

1200021474389218406-jpeg-html As the U.S. prepares for a record corn and wheat harvest this season, Alltech mycotoxin expert Dr. Max Hawkins has a warning: Quantity should not distract producers from being vigilant regarding quality and the potential for mycotoxin risk.

Hawkins recently noted that the wet weather experienced across the northern Great Plains during the spring wheat harvest led to increased crop stress and Fusarium head blight.

Much of the U.S. Corn Belt also experienced above average temperatures and moisture through August, which has created the right environment for mold and subsequent mycotoxin issues.

Alltech recently collected more than 100 TMR samples from the U.S. and analyzed them using the Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analytical services laboratory. Of the samples, nearly 18 percent contained 6–7 mycotoxins, 42 percent had 4–5 mycotoxins, 35 percent had 2–3 mycotoxins, and less than 2 percent had either one mycotoxin or none. Type B trichothecenes and fusaric acid were most prevalent mycotoxins, appearing in 83 percent and 92 percent of the samples respectively.

The toxicity of Fusaric Acid is significantly enhanced when feed is co-contaminated with type B trichothecene or DON. When both mycotoxins are present, the sample group has a risk equivalent quantity of 187 for beef cattle and 211 for dairy cows. For the dairy cows, this level of risk could represent a 0.5-liter loss in milk production per cow per day.

Derek Wawack, a member of the Alltech Mycotoxin Management team in Wisconsin, said that he has been fielding an increasing number of calls, emails and texts about fungal infections.

“Within just the last couple weeks, these fungal infections have really started to show as the summer has progressed,” said Wawack. “Stress from dry to overly-wet conditions, then cooler weather, has allowed these molds to begin growing on the ears.”

He recommends carrying out a 37+ analysis early and monitoring throughout feed out to stay ahead of any major problems.

“Years where we have seen high levels of both Fusarium and Penicillium in the field have typically led to high mycotoxin levels in storage,” said Wawack. “The results have been drastic production losses, loose manure, edema, bloat, conception problems, abortions, bloodshot eyes, bleeding from the ears and nasal passages and even high mortality rates, along with false positive antibiotic tests within milk from the Penicillium mold.”

More information on managing the threat from mycotoxins can be found here.