There’s bad news if you feed livestock: Nearly all of the world’s feed grain supply is contaminated with at least one mycotoxin. Almost 2/3 of corn harvested in 2018 that was tested by Kemin Customer Laboratory Services (CLS) was positive for mycotoxins. More importantly, however, nearly 50% of those samples contained multiple toxins.
Heat, energy, water and oxygen: they’re four essential elements critical to just about every form of life on the planet. Provided those things, even the most infinitesimally small organisms can flourish. In the case of mycotoxin-producing molds, that vigor can become costly for livestock producers. Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites that are produced by mold in stored grain or growing plants. The production of mycotoxins is essentially a defensive response by the growing mold triggered by an environmental factor, like temperature, oxygen, pH or moisture.
Managing mycotoxin contaminated feed ingredients is a constant challenge for animal producers. Mycotoxins are produced by both field and storage molds, and – even when fed at low levels – can have a detrimental impact on livestock and poultry performance. To make matters worse, grains are frequently contaminated with multiple mycotoxins, and research suggests toxic synergies may exist with certain mycotoxin combinations. Absorption of mycotoxins by the gastrointestinal (GI) tract may result in immunological dysfunction, malabsorption of nutrients and ultimately, losses in weight and performance.
After the winter polar vortex and the floods of spring, we are ready for summer. To consumers, summer means sunshine, baseball, fishing and ice cream. For producers, however, hot humid weather means heat stress, which can negatively impact performance of livestock and poultry and decrease profitability of your business. One method used to counter decreased feed intake associated with summer heat stress is to include supplemental fats and oils in animal rations which increase the energy density and palatability of diets. But oxidation – a major source of decreased fat quality – also speeds up with summer heat. Do you have a plan to protect your supplemental fats and oils from oxidation this summer?
What causes fats to oxidize? Time of storage, application of heat and the mixing of different lipid sources all have an impact on fat quality, and specifically on influencing oxidation. Oxidation is an irreversible, naturally-occurring process where fatty acids are attacked by free radicals resulting in production of harmful byproducts, including peroxides and aldehydes. This process reduces the energy value of the fat and can have deleterious effects on growth performance. Once oxidation starts, the damage cannot be undone, so preventing oxidation should be a top priority for producers.
Mycotoxins are toxic and/or carcinogenic molecules produced by growing fungi, specifically the various mold species which grow on plants. The toxigenic fungi involved in the human and animal food chains belong mainly to three genera: Aspergillus, Fusarium and Penicillium. Each of these molds can produce more than one toxin and some toxins are produced by more than one mold. Once we have mycotoxins in our crop, what options exist for livestock and poultry producers?
The hot summer weather is beginning to wind down now – but it’s always a good time to ask, “how is my fat looking?” Monitoring the quality of your incoming fat sources is the primary step in effective fat management. The impacts of oxidation are irreversible, so it is crucial to begin with high-quality fat and then maintain that quality. Oxidized fat that has been negatively impacted by heat, light and oxygen can have a damaging impact on your animals. This impact can be seen across performance, health and nutrition through decreased growth, immunity challenges, loss of energy content in the fat itself and an array of other issues.
Knowing the quality of the components going into your livestock feed is crucial to the success of your operation. Most formulation software packages assign standard nutritional values for the components in a diet. But, what happens when the quality of these components does not match that assigned by the software program? You may not see the impact of nutritional variability of the diet in your day-to-day livestock performance, but it can ultimately manifest itself in feed intake, daily gain and animal health over time.
Water. It is a major part of our everyday lives. It is one of the most essential components to our survival, and we take our access to a clean and safe water supply very seriously. The question is, do we put that same amount of emphasis on the quality of water we are providing to our livestock and poultry? Is the quality good enough to make you want to drink from your animals’ waterer?
Livestock and poultry producers are all aware of the presence of potentially-harmful mycotoxins in grain. It seems every day there is a new report declaring the newest hot spot for mycotoxin contamination. So, why does it suddenly feel like mycotoxins are found everywhere? A large reason for the increased focus on mycotoxin contamination is reporting. There is a growing database related to the detrimental impact that even low levels of mycotoxins can have on livestock production. With this increased awareness, the focus now shifts to signs and symptoms of mycotoxin contamination and what producers can do to mitigate their impact.
Feed represents the largest expense in the yearly budget for livestock and poultry producers. To control feed costs, feed ingredient buyers often seek the best price for these inputs. The best price for feed ingredients may not always be the best value. The quality of individual feed ingredients delivered to livestock and poultry production complexes need to be more fully scrutinized to determine the value of individual ingredients. The quality of feed components should be subject to review by purchasing staff; however, to ensure quality is monitored closely, purchasing and production staff must be closely aligned. Feed ingredient buyers need to be aware of quality when purchasing the feed ingredients for a livestock and poultry operation. The profitability of the business depends on it.
If you asked any farmer, they would agree that harvest is one of the best times of the year. Nothing brings that overwhelming feeling of satisfaction quite like watching the combine hopper fill with the fruits of their labor. During this time of "harvest celebration" it may be easy for one to think all the work is done. However, when it comes to maintaining the quality of grain after harvest, the work hasn't even started.
Times are changing for swine and poultry producers. Driven by consumer demands, animal production practices are now seeing a reduction in the amount of antibiotics used. With this reduction in antibiotic usage, producers are discovering a new set of management challenges which can have implications on animal health and performance. When using medications, at times, feed and water quality problems can be disguised. However, in today's production systems, those previously low priority concerns are now becoming increasingly important issues.
Vitamins are essential for animal growth, health, reproduction and performance. Factors such as temperature, oxygen, light and catalysts can all negatively impact vitamin stability in feed.Preservation of vitamins in the feed matrix can be accomplished through the addition of an antioxidant. For the best vitamin protection, an antioxidant system like ENDOX®, which includes a blend of oxygen and free radical scavenging antioxidants and metal chelators, should be used.
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