October 3, 2008
Greater vigilance and safety measures are required for feed grains as risks of mycotoxins are unusually high this winter, according to independent industry reports.
Recent Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) warnings of high fusarium mycotoxin development in cereal grains are echoed by information from Harper Adams University College in Shropshire, England, underlines the prevalence of some common mycotoxins in whole-crop and corn silages, said David Wilde, Alltech's ruminant technical manager.
Wilde said the wet harvest indicates more mouldy grain than usual and therefore a higher risk of mycotoxin in feed grains. Forages can also be a source of the problem, Wilde said.
It will be a mistake to assume that mycotoxins are not present just because there is no visible sign of mould, which may be present in the growing crop pre-harvest or develop at any later stage, and will produce mycotoxins often in response to some form of stress, Wilde said.
Wilde reminded that while it may be caused by weather or ensiling process, the important thing to remember is that mycotoxins may remain a risk long after any visible signs of mould have disappeared.
Mycotoxins can cause inconsistent milk yields, poor rumen function, swollen hocks and increased disease rates.
Wilde suggests that farmers with concerns should carry out a risk assessment for feedstuffs quality, storage environment and factors such as harvesting conditions.
Should there be any risk, farmers could use a feed additive designed to help negate the effects of most mycotoxin problems, according to Wilde.