Weather conditions affect quality of grains and forages
The 2017 growing season was a variable and challenging one across Canada. From drought conditions on the prairies to above-average rainfall in Ontario, weather conditions can not only reduce yield, but can also increase plant stress and lead to challenges with mycotoxins. Results from samples submitted for the Alltech 2017 Canadian Harvest Analysis show that grains and forages from across Canada are at risk of mycotoxin contamination.
Samples submitted between September 1 and October 15, 2017, show that grains contained mixtures of mycotoxins, including deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (ZEA). Forages such as corn silage, barlage and haylage samples also contained multiple mycotoxins in 2017, particularly from mycotoxins produced by Fusarium species of molds, such as DON, ZEA and T-2/HT-2 toxins.
As a result of the late-season rains in many provinces, especially following the dry conditions during the summer in the prairies, there is additional potential for mycotoxins such as fumonisins.
Mycotoxins are a regular concern for producers, as they influence feed quality and animal safety. They are produced by certain species of molds and can have toxic properties that impact animal health and performance.
“Farmers should carefully consider if and how feed with mycotoxins is used,” said Dr. Alexandra Weaver, Alltech Mycotoxin Management technical specialist. “Even minimal changes in feed quality can have a big impact on an animal’s production over time.”
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 currently being fed, it is important to conduct a mycotoxin analysis that identifies storage mycotoxins, including the Penicillium and Aspergillus mycotoxin groups, as there is added 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 have on animal health and performance.