Your guide to on-farm risk management
Recent surveys have shown that mycotoxins are present in almost all feedstuffs. The question is not if mycotoxins are present, but which ones and at what level. There are various methods available for measuring mycotoxins, ranging from quick and simple screening tests to comprehensive, sophisticated surveillance systems.
A robust on-farm program to mitigate mycotoxins will also include a systematic approach to feed hygiene.
Here are several low-cost ways for producers to help reduce their exposure to mycotoxins:
Mycotoxins are produced by molds, and keeping on top of mold is therefore a key practical step on-farm that reduces the risk of mycotoxin problems.
Ideally, any feedstuff should be stored in a way that protects it from the weather. When it comes to byproducts, because these are often inexpensive feed options, the temptation is to be more relaxed about protecting them from the elements, but effective storage is key to reducing mycotoxin risk.
For long-term storage in silos, acidification should be considered. Lowering the pH of grains in silos will help to put mold into a dormant-like state that will minimize mold growth in storage. A simple, electronic moisture meter is a valuable piece of equipment on-farm. Moisture needs to be below 14 percent for stored grains and byproducts. A quick assessment of the level of broken kernels and fines is also valuable.
Use a proven silage inoculant when ensiling material. Increasing the speed at which the ensiled material drops to around pH 4 means less time for mold growth. Be aware, however, that certain mold species are quite acid-tolerant, so not all mold species will be taken care of by this approach, and even inoculated material needs to be evaluated carefully.
Cleaning and clearing
When feeding out preserved feeds, discard any obvious mold. Consider patches of moldy material as poisonous, and do not be tempted to blend them in with clean feed.
Cleaning silos and other storage bunkers between loads is very important, especially as it minimizes fines, which are a good breeding ground for mold.
Indirect measures can give a guideline of the risk posed by a material. Mold counts are commonly used as an indirect measure of the risk associated with a product. It is not a direct measure of mycotoxins, but it gives a fairly good guide as to what feeds need to be used with caution.
Guidelines indicate that if there are over 100,000 colony forming units per gram of feed (cfu/g), the material needs to be fed with caution, and over 10 million cfu/g is not considered safe to feed.
Mold counts are attractive because of their lower cost, but for increased accuracy of risk assessment, mycotoxin testing should be completed. Ideally, a broad testing approach should be taken, such as the Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analysis.
When mold counts exceed the recommended numbers, or mycotoxins exceed the recommended practical limits, a proven, broad-spectrum mycotoxin binder should be included on-farm.
The above guidelines are simple to follow and can protect your farm’s profitability.
Book your Alltech 37+® consultation today.