Alltech released its 2023 U.S. Harvest Analysis Report. Dr. Max Hawkins, tech support for the Alltech Mycotoxin Management Team, says to follow the weather to find the mycotoxins.
“If you get into the western Corn Belt and some of the Northern prairies, it was very dry. When we get into really dry weather, we tend to have fewer mycotoxins because we kind of take the Fusarium out of the equation, but we still had Aspergillus toxin. That could be a problem because Aspergillus is what produces aflatoxin, and we did find it further north than we typically would. We found it into Northern Iowa, into the Dakotas, and it was even maybe a little more severe than normal even into the southern portions of the Canadian Prairies. As that season progressed, the rains came in the eastern Corn Belt began in July, and that kicked off the Fusarium molds, the Fusarium mycotoxins, and they’re much more highly occurring as we get east of the Mississippi, get into the Ohio Valley, and then follow that upward through Michigan on into Pennsylvania, New York, and New England.”
He says mycotoxins carry severe risks to animal performance and health.
“Those performance factors can just be from feed intakes, digestive processes, gut wall integrity, liver function, and they can also impact the animal’s ability to develop fully expected titer from health treatments. We get into breeding herds in breeding flocks that are vaccinated on a regular basis, we may not get the full expected titer levels because of the lowered immune response that we see in the animal. This year, where a lot of the livestock industry is under some economic pressure, anything that happens that makes feed efficiency, gain, and those types of things less, that even complicates things much more. So, if you can’t get the expected health, if you can’t get the expected performance, we can trace a lot of that back to mycotoxin pressure.”
Hawkins says producers need to regularly test their feeds and ingredients.
“Mycotoxins can increase during storage periods, so they increase later on this winter and into spring, what was a safe crop back in fall now may be somewhat of a risk. What was a risk in the fall now can be an extremely high risk. That’s why we recommend that they continue to test periodically, particularly as we break into new sources of grain and forages as we move into the winter and spring. We can blend different sources together to help lower that risk that goes into the finished feed products.”
The mycotoxin risk can change at any time. High-risk corn and silage last year will be even riskier this year.
“If you started out at low risk early in the season with corn silage and corn grain harvest, things have changed drastically as we get into that residue material that we use for feedstuffs.”