During times of rising feed costs, limiting the risks of hidden profit-robbers, like mycotoxins, from eroding livestock and poultry feed efficiency is critical to an operation’s bottom line. Mycotoxins vary year to year due to environmental and storage conditions of grains. To combat the perennial mycotoxin problem, identifying mycotoxin risks in ingredients before manufacturing feeds is key.
For producers to properly address the perennial mycotoxin challenge, understanding the risks mycotoxins pose to herd or flock health and performance is key. Furthermore, with many mills switching from old crop to new crop grains, it’s the perfect time to fine-tune mycotoxin strategies. Knowing what mycotoxins are in your grains is critical, but it’s also important to remember that not all mycotoxins – or their negative effects – are easily detected. So, what mycotoxin risks should be top of mind this year?
With the third largest corn crop in history, learn why corn prices are nearing $5.00 per bushel ($178/US ton), as well as what Kemin Customer Laboratory Services (CLS) discovered, while evaluating corn samples for the presence of mold and mycotoxins. See the report.
When producers think of mycotoxins, they often think of the big six: aflatoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2 toxin, fumonisin, ochratoxin and zearalenone. The primary effects of these toxins on performance and health of production animals are known, and regulatory guidance on threshold levels for these toxins in grains and feed exist. The problem is focusing in on these toxins alone equates to tunnel vision in the broader fight against the 300+ mycotoxins known to contaminate animal feed.
On July 10, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE). In this report, United States corn production was forecasted at 15.0 billion bushels. The national average corn yield is unchanged at 178.5 bushels per acre. Projected feed and residual use were 5.85 billion bushels and good, seed, and industrial was 6.625 billion bushels. Based off these, and other data, the USDA estimated the 2021 ending stocks will be 2.648 billion bushels, up 400 million bushels from 2.248 billion in 2020.
Mycotoxins are a costly, complicated problem for livestock and poultry producers. Not only are there hundreds of different mycotoxins, all produced by different fungi and environmental factors, but each category of toxins and each toxin within those categories can impact animals and birds differently. For producers, that means becoming aware of the major toxins and knowing the signs and symptoms of toxin exposure are critical to reduce the risk of mycotoxins eroding animal health and performance.
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.
Environmental stressors like extreme heat and management factors such as movement to new barns or housing units can cause a breakdown in an animal’s natural defenses. That’s when mycotoxins like trichothecenes (T-2 and deoxynivalenol (DON)) can infiltrate internal systems and cause sometimes severe — even fatal — damage when left unchecked.
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.
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?
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.
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