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European dairy farmers warned to take proactive measures as weather conditions raise risk of mycotoxins

Samples recently collected as part of the Alltech European Summer Harvest Analysis indicated a high risk for the presence of mycotoxins in total mixed rations (TMR) and grass silage. The Alltech® Mycotoxin Management team categorised grass silage samples taken from across Ireland and the U.K. as “high risk” due to the fact that 100 percent of the samples analysed contained Penicillium mycotoxins, with the samples containing an average of 978 parts per billion (ppb) and up to 3,389 ppb. Over 60 percent of the samples also contained type B trichothecenes and fusaric acid, with 15 percent of the samples containing aflatoxin B1 at an average of 12 ppb and as high as 98 ppb.

Additionally, TMR samples from Denmark, France, Italy, Germany and Spain also indicated a high risk in type A trichothecenes and Penicillium mycotoxins.

The Alltech Mycotoxin Management team are calling on producers to take a proactive approach to mycotoxins by sampling TMR and grass silage regularly in order to understand potential threats and implement proper management programmes.

Penicillium mycotoxins are widely known as storage mycotoxins, as they grow after harvest,” said Dr. Alexandra Weaver, technical specialist for the Alltech Mycotoxin Management programme. “Recent mild weather conditions and increased rainfall in Europe have provided the perfect growing conditions for moulds in both field and storage conditions, which increases the risk for multiple mycotoxins.”

In particular, dairy producers should observe their herd for poor feed intake, reproductive disorders, laminitis, mastitis and poor responses to vaccination programmes, which can all be attributed to ingesting mycotoxin-contaminated feed. Additionally, the other Penicillium mycotoxins can have strong impacts on rumen functions. Producers may notice inconsistent manure, low milk production or altered milk quality.

“If left unchecked and uncontrolled, contamination even at low levels can result in the loss of production over time,” said Weaver.

The Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analysis programme can detect the presence of more than 37 different mycotoxins in feed, raw materials and forage. It also provides a risk assessment of the threat to animals as well as tailored recommendations, all within two weeks of sample submission. For more information, click here.