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Reaping the rewards from data
Author: Nick Adams, Global Director, Alltech Mycotoxin Management
Click below to listen to the Mycotoxin Matters podcast episode with Cesar Infante, VP of Digital Business Development at Alltech, hosted by Martin Minchin. You can also hear the full audio or listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can find an edited transcript at the bottom of the page.
In recent years, the increased awareness of mycotoxins globally has led to progress in many areas. Perhaps most fundamentally, the increased attention has driven more research into the impact of mycotoxins on animal performance, including the generation of meta-analyses for certain species. This aids a better understanding of the link between mycotoxin contamination and the performance of animals in the field. Another driver of increased awareness has been the understanding of the role of changing agricultural practices and climatic conditions that have seen mycotoxin contamination of key global grains become an accepted norm.
As awareness has increased, so has the testing for mycotoxins in the field. This is both to meet regulatory requirements and better understand the mycotoxin element of ingredient quality for optimizing feed formulation and animal performance. More mycotoxin testing yields more data, which, if accessible, provides a powerful insight into contamination profiles of key grains in different countries, regions and seasons across the world. Despite the various testing taking place, data can often remain fragmented and inaccessible, limiting the opportunities to make effective decisions related to mycotoxin control.
Through its Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analysis, Alltech analyses approximately 7,000 samples of ingredients, forages and feeds each year from 65 countries worldwide. This data is maintained within a central database for easy access, and its analysis can provide wide-ranging insights into contamination patterns and levels of mycotoxin risk. While Alltech 37+ analysis offers a beneficial and in-depth insight into mycotoxin contamination, analyzing 54 individual mycotoxins, one limiting factor with this method is the sheer number of ingredient samples or finished feeds tested each year. The costs associated with carrying out such a comprehensive analysis and the requirement for the sample to be sent to a laboratory, often overseas, mean that this type of analysis tends to be used more sparingly and with more complex feed matrices as opposed to individual grains, such as corn.
Where LCMS testing methods like Alltech 37+ are not always feasible, producers regularly use more straightforward immune assay-based methods. These rapid test kits are based on lateral flow devices. While these methods do not identify the same number of mycotoxins as Alltech 37+, they provide an ideal alternative for rapid testing of key mycotoxins, such as deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisin and aflatoxin and ochratoxins. It is often necessary to monitor these mycotoxins for regulatory compliance. They are also useful as markers for wider mycotoxin contamination, warning for animal health and performance implications. These systems are numerous around the world, being used regularly within feed mills, grain elevators and at a farm level. The key challenge with these systems is their connectivity or lack thereof, rendering most of this data only usable at a very local level.
Through its partnership with Neogen, Alltech has developed the Alltech RAPIREAD® platform to help link the data being gathered around the world by tests carried out on Neogen Raptor devices. By using Alltech RAPIREAD in combination with the Neogen® Raptor devices, users cannot only conduct a rapid mycotoxin assay — providing a result within 10 minutes — they can also upload that result to the Alltech RAPIREAD global results database. Hosted on the recently updated Mycotoxin Management Portal, this subsequently provides the user with an interpretation of their results based on the specific species they are feeding. Capturing data in this format allows stakeholders throughout the feed supply chain to better understand of regional, global and seasonal mycotoxin contamination patterns and better inform the requirements for any necessary mitigation strategies.
Through this approach, Alltech and Neogen aim to provide a complete service to users. In addition to fast and reliable results from proven technology, users also receive real-time interpretations of those results and can look at contamination trends and comparisons to other results, both regionally and globally.
As the global trade in grains and feed ingredients continues, the ability to better connect and interpret global contamination data becomes more valuable to those throughout the animal feed sector. Alltech RAPIREAD has been specifically developed to meet these goals, and one producer who is benefitting from using Alltech RAPIREAD is Kohlnhofer Farms.
Kohlnhofer Farms is an integrated, family-owned swine producer that has found Alltech RAPIREAD to be a vital tool in the quest to control mycotoxins in the mill that feeds their generations-old family farm.
Ellyn Kohlnhofer is a second-generation farmer with many jobs at the farm, one being testing for mycotoxins. It was important for her to have a system that was quick, easy to use and produced a report with all the information needed to make fast and effective decisions at the mill. Kohlnhofer Farms wanted to be at the front line of mycotoxin control, and Alltech RAPIREAD filled the gap in their system, producing the essential information when needed.
“The Neogen Raptor testing system is easy to use, and results are obtained quickly. We need to be the first to know what mycotoxin level we are dealing with, and being in control of that process was key for us to make quick decisions. The Alltech RAPIREAD program makes the system even easier to use and explains the results so that anyone can understand them. We utilize the traffic light figure in the quick report so that, at a glance, we know if action needs to be taken.” – Ellyn Kohlnhofer of Kohlnhofer Farms.
The most effective mycotoxin control programs will be designed to combine both lab-based broad-spectrum mycotoxin testing and in-field rapid test kits that detect a narrower range of mycotoxins. To learn more about how Alltech can help you design such a mycotoxin management program, please visit knowmycotoxins.com or contact your local Alltech representative.