ANALYSIS - Livestock farmers need to be aware of the numerous mycotoxins that could be found in feed and fodder and be prepared to take action against them.
This was the message from Alltech’s Graeme Smith to a seminar at the Livestock Event in Birmingham, last week.
Mr Smith said that because of disastrous harvest last year mycotoxin levels are at an all-time high.
“In monitoring by the HGCA, 97 per cent of crops were found to be infected with Fusarium mycotoxins, but concentrating on a few common strains doesn’t give the true picture.”
He said that there are up to 500 known mycotoxins and recent trials by Alltech, which identified more than 37 different mycotoxins had found low levels of mycotoxins and masked mycotoxins disguised by being attached to a simple sugar.
He said that in tracing and eliminating mycotoxins by binding them, livestock farmers need to ensure they are looking not just at one or two, but at a wide range.
He said that in the recent trials 100 per cent of the samples analysed came back as contaminated - 96 per cent with Fumonisium and 80 per cent with Penicillium mycotoxins.
“This is significant that Penicillium or silage mycotoxins are particularly dangerous due to their direct antibiotic effect on the rumen microorganisams, which make the animal more susceptible to other types of mycotoxins,” he said.
He added that the symptoms of mycotoxins are diverse and can challenge the health and productivity of most livestock.
In dairy cattle they can cause reduced feed intakes and falling milk yields, high cell counts, acidiosis and poor fertility.
He said the effect of the groups of mycotoxins can be mitigated by adding a binder to the feed to absorb the harmful mycotoxins. This will help to restore health and prevent productivity losses.
The binders that are used to reduce the effect of mycotoxins are traditionally clay, but now nutrition companies are producing both chemical and enzyme agents to mitigate the effects.
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