Corn hay may pose aflatoxin risk in animal feed

Concerned farmers should test baled corn to protect livestock

Corn produced and baled as hay to be sold for livestock consumption may pose a risk for aflatoxin, particularly the current year’s crop, according to experts.

Corn produced in Oklahoma, Texas, western Arkansas and southwestern Missouri, were severely drought-stricken and may have had higher incidences of aflatoxins than other areas, according to Clay Wright, agricultural consultant for the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. “It got so bad around here that a lot of the corn wasn’t harvested,” said Wright. “It was just baled. It got so hot and dry, and stayed so hot and dry, the whole plant with the ear still on it and everything was just baled up.”

While this baling kept potential aflatoxin out of the U.S. grain supply, said Wright, it could be transferred to animal feed instead. “There has been a whole lot of corn hay harvested and purchased that is currently being fed that was never tested,” said Wright. “I wouldn’t recommend it as a routine practice, but if you are concerned, grab some ears and have it sampled. There are other problems with baled corn, there are nitrate problems with it that can cause sickness and death, just like aflatoxins.”

Anyone wanting to find out where and how to go about testing for aflatoxins should contact their local Extension office.