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Alltech’s european summer harvest survey indicates ruminant and monogastric animals at risk from mycotoxins

The Alltech 37+ European Mycotoxin Summer Harvest Survey offers a high-altitude view of the potential mycotoxin risk of grain and forage crops to livestock.

Samples of wheat, barley, corn, corn silage and grass silage were submitted for analysis to the Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analytical services laboratory in Dunboyne, Ireland, between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1, 2017. The samples are representative of many geographic regions across Europe and were analysed for 40 individual mycotoxins, including a new panel of five mycotoxins.

The grain crops are showing risk levels of trichothecenes from DON and T-2 to swine. Silages are showing risk levels of not only DON and T-2, but also high levels of Penicillium and, to a lesser degree, aflatoxin.

“Understanding the risk of mycotoxins and combination of mycotoxins, even at lower risk levels, allows farmers and producers to institute a management programme for more optimum animal performance and health,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, nutritionist for the Alltech® Mycotoxin Management team. “Testing feedstuffs and finished feeds is paramount to putting this management programme into action.”

Weather events not only affect crop yield but can also affect plant health and mould growth. Moulds such as Aspergillus prefer warmer and drier climates, while Fusarium moulds prefer wetter and more moderate temperatures. These weather events can be localised or spread more widely across geographic regions. The weather in parts of Europe ahead of the 2017 summer harvest was dry and warm prior to the small grain harvest, but as corn harvest neared, some regions experienced excess rainfall. The European Summer Harvest Survey therefore shows a blend of Aspergillus- and Fusarium-generated mycotoxins as well as Penicillium, which will result in multiple mycotoxins in finished feeds.

Another mycotoxin that is trending high across Europe is fumonisin, which can have a negative impact on feed intake, gut health, liver function and immune response.

It is important to note that once there are mycotoxins in the crop, they will not go away. There will be higher levels of mycotoxins on farms practicing monocropping of corn, as opposed to those farms that are rotating crops or using deeper tillage methods.

Mycotoxins are a regular concern for producers, as they influence feed quality and animal safety. They are produced by certain species of moulds and can have toxic properties that impact animal health and performance.

Mycotoxins are seldom found in isolation, and when multiple mycotoxins are consumed, they may have additive, or even synergistic, interactions that increase the overall risk to performance and health. As a result, an animal may have a stronger response than what would be expected if it was only experiencing a single mycotoxin challenge.

For feedstuffs harvested in 2017 and that are currently being fed, it is important to conduct a mycotoxin analysis that identifies the storage mycotoxins, including the Penicillium and Aspergillus mycotoxin groups, as there is potential for additional mycotoxins to develop during storage. Proper mycotoxin management techniques can reduce the risk of mycotoxins coming from feed materials as well as help to prevent the negative effects mycotoxins can on have animal health and performance.

Alltech will host a webinar to review the Alltech 37+ European Mycotoxin Summer Harvest Survey results with Dr. Max Hawkins on Dec. 8, 2017, at 14:00 CET (13:00 GMT). Register for the webinar via this link.