Mycotoxins add to this year’s dairy feeding challengesPrint
Feed quantity, price and quality will be a challenge this year, compounded by a growing season that created scattered but widespread mycotoxin problems. USDA estimates this year’s corn supply at an eight-year low, and much of the Midwest is trying to utilize this year’s poor corn crop for their livestock.
“This year’s volatile drought has forced livestock producers to think twice about the quality of their feedstuffs,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, with Alltech mycotoxin management team. The company recently launched a mass spectrometry technique, LC-MS2, to investigate 38 different mycotoxins quantitatively, and more than 50 others qualitatively.
Corn molds, especially Aspergillus ear rot, have been found in fields across Midwest.
“Aspergillus ear rot is more problematic this year than other years because of the hot, dry weather of the drought,” said Kiersten Wise, Purdue Extension field crops disease specialist. “Corn planted early in the spring was stressed during pollination and throughout the growing season, and these are the conditions that favor infection by the fungus that causes Aspergillus ear rot.”
Because Aspergillus ear rot is the most common mold problem this year, there is increased concern surrounding aflatoxin, a carcinogen produced by the Aspergillus fungus that can cause health problems in livestock.
At the Eastern DairyBusiness press deadline, six states – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma – applied for and received U.S. Food & Drug Administration waivers to allow corn containing more than 20 parts per billion (ppb) of aflatoxin to be blended with corn containing lower levels of aflatoxin for use as animal feed. Similar waivers were granted in 2005, 2003 and 1988.
The blending agreement between FDA and the states puts several regulatory hurdles in place. For example, each batch of blended corn must be analyzed to determine the aflatoxin level and a “Certificate of Compliance” must accompany all movement of the blended grain, providing information that it is a blended load, details the level of aflatoxin in the batch and indicates the species of animals that this grain can be fed to. Corn containing greater than 500 ppb aflatoxin cannot be blended.
And, while the news may be good for some livestock producers, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture said additional precautions are needed for dairy cattle and, for the most part, blended feed cannot and should not be fed to dairy cattle. Specific sampling, analysis and testing protocols and procedures must be followed.
Other toxins evident
While Aspergillus has been the most notorious culprit so far in 2012, other toxins may show up this year. The hot and dry growing season provides just the right climate for the mold Fusarium verticillioides, which causes fumonisin B1. Penicillium is another mold of concern, especially during storage. Silage that is dry, poorly packed or has a significant amount of soil contamination can allow Pencillium to produce PR toxin, patulin, mycophenolic acid, roquefortine C, penicilic acid and several other mycotoxins.
Grain purchasers often reject or pay lower prices for corn testing positive for aflatoxin, so it’s possible some farmers will be claiming their crops as total losses this year.
George Patrick, Purdue Extension agricultural economist, said a lot of crop insurance claims are being filed, and farmers should expect the adjustment process to run significantly behind normal schedule. But moldy corn could bring more awareness to insuring crops in case of natural disasters such as drought, wind, hail or flood.
Purdue website a resource
Farmers dealing with moldy corn can find helpful identification and management information. Purdue Extension’s “Managing Moldy Corn” website, (www.purdue.edu/cornmold), has been updated because of this year’s drought.
The website is broken down into four sections: 1) causes and identification; 2) feeding and animal nutrition; 3) storage and handling; and 4) and marketing and insurance. Experts and their contact information are also listed.
DDGS Handbook: Mycotoxins
Aflatoxin and other mycotoxin levels can increase in storage, and become concentrated in dried distillers grains.
To update current and potential customers on advances in research and end-users’ experience in feeding U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), the U.S. Grains Council has released a third edition of A Guide to Distiller’s Dried Grains with Solubles.
New chapters and expanded feeding sections provide greater detail in both processing and feeding methods. For example, some ethanol plants remove more oil, reducing oil/fat content of DDGS, so the handbook includes information on low-oil DDGS in dairy cattle diets.
And, especially for this year’s challenging growing conditions, the handbook provides details on nutrient composition and digestibility of DDGS and recommended laboratory analytical procedures, with a chapter on mycotoxins in DDGS.
To view the handbook online and download the PDF, visit www.grains.org.