When livestock and poultry producers think of mycotoxins, they often think of the big six: aflatoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2 toxin, fumonisin, ochratoxin and zearalenone. The problem is, there are hundreds of different mycotoxins, all produced by different molds, and each toxin can impact animals and birds differently. Further, grain growing conditions, storage settings and more can influence the mold and mycotoxin profile of different grains.
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?
1. Hot, dry weather increases aflatoxin risk
In contrast to recent years where wet weather and Fusarium mycotoxins reigned, the warmer, drier weather in 2020 means an increased risk for aflatoxins. Elevated aflatoxins are particularly problematic because aflatoxins – a group of carcinogenic chemicals produced by Aspergillus molds – are among the most menacing of mycotoxins.
With a FDA action level of 20 ppb, aflatoxins pose significant risk to corn growers and livestock producers alike.1 Aflatoxins can cause liver damage and be harmful or fatal to livestock. Worse yet, animals fed aflatoxin-contaminated grains can transfer these highly bioavailable molecules to meat, milk and egg products, thereby posing a significant human health hazard.2 To protect your animals and end consumers, knowing aflatoxin levels in incoming grains is key.