Manage mycotoxin risks with this six-step plan

myco_corn_blogThe negative impact of mycotoxins in feed on animal performance has been the topic of several meta-analysis studies and according to a recent article, has been correlated to have an economic cost of approximately $900 million per year in the U.S. alone.

This figure shows the importance of preparing a plan for mycotoxin risk management, which should involve the following six steps, and can minimize the impact of mycotoxins to your operation.

  1. Research which mycotoxins are most likely to cause a risk in your region

There are several sources that can provide you with information on the prevalence of different types of mycotoxins. Some feed companies providing mycotoxin solutions publish the results of mycotoxin surveys carried out worldwide. More independent sources for information include surveys carried out by mycotoxin analysis labs or surveys published in the scientific literature. Neogen’s Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report also provides weekly mycotoxin levels and information during the growing and harvest season.

  1. Find out which ingredients are at risk for mycotoxin contamination

Some feed ingredients are more at risk for mycotoxin contamination than others. For example, in comparison with corn, soybean meal appears to be less susceptible to mycotoxin contamination. The article also explains that mycotoxin contamination in DDGS samples is generally greater than in corn. This makes it important to monitor the mycotoxin content of DDGS prior to its inclusion in animal diets.

The risk for mycotoxins will also depend where you are sourcing your ingredients from. Mycotoxin prevalence differ by regions and countries, mainly due to differences in climate. Mycotoxin prevalence will also differ between harvests. Therefore, it makes sense to look at the most up-to-date surveys available.

  1. Set up a time schedule to analyze feed or feed ingredients for mycotoxins regularly

Mycotoxin analysis should become part of the routine evaluation of feed and feed ingredients. Regular sampling and testing of feed allows detecting any variations in mycotoxin contamination. From a farming perspective, the most critical point is the sampling procedure of feed.

Sampling corn for mycotoxins:

The distribution of mycotoxins in a corn lot is usually highly variable, and it can be extremely variable for aflatoxins especially. For sampling harvested grain, a recommended sampling approach is to collect at least 10 full probes from a number of locations throughout the lot, or at least 10 collections from a moving stream of grain. The article suggests to not collect a sample from a single location in the lot, as it is highly unlikely that it will be representative of the lot. A 10-pound sample is commonly recommended.

Sampling silage for mycotoxins:

To know the quality of the silage that is fed to animals, samples must be collected from the front of the silo, and the procedure should be repeated at different times. For instance, 12-15 sub-samples should be collected from the front of the silage to form a pool of 500-1,000 grams as the final sample. Remember, each sample only represents the portion of silage from which it was taken as mycotoxin distribution may change.

For more information on sampling feed for mycotoxin analysis, click here.

  1. Find a reliable lab that can carry out mycotoxin analysis for you

There are many test labs available to provide a service for mycotoxin testing. There are also universities and research institutions that provide a mycotoxin analysis service. In addition to Neogen’s mycotoxin test kits, we also offer a check sample program, which is an easy and effective way to validate testing accuracy by allowing users to have their aflatoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON), and fumonisin protocols blindly tested by Neogen’s expert staff.

  1. Check your animals for symptoms of a mycotoxin challenge

There are several symptoms in pigs, poultry and ruminants to look out for that can indicate a mycotoxin challenge is present in your feed. Depending on the types of mycotoxins present, symptoms seen in the animal will differ. Click here for an overview of the different symptoms seen in response to mycotoxins by species.

  1. Support your animals to become more resistant to possible mycotoxin challenges

New solutions available on the market include formulas to apply to feed that help the animal adapt to nutritional stressors such as mycotoxins and reduce the stress reactions caused by mycotoxins in the animal. This empowers the animal to be more efficient and robust in the face of mycotoxin challenges and other nutritional stressors. It is also effective against a broader range of mycotoxins and against DON in particular, where binders have been known to fail.

Consult your vet and feed advisor to decide what works best for your operation.

For more information, click here.

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