Mycotoxin threat found in 2013 North American corn harvest

Producers should implement mycotoxin control program now, says Alltech

All of the corn and corn silage samples submitted during the 2013 harvest tested positive for multiple mycotoxins, according to a recent harvest analysis conducted by global animal health and nutrition company Alltech.

The Alltech Harvest Analysis North America (HANA) survey tested 101 samples from across the U.S. and Canada and demonstrated the need for producers to implement a mycotoxin management program to monitor the effects of toxins on all species throughout 2014. Despite more rainfall across the Corn Belt and yields pushing record production, farmers must consider quality rather than quantity, according to Alltech. Quality not only includes nutritive value but also the presence and levels of mycotoxins in the 2013 crop.

The presence of mycotoxins follows what is being observed in that a greater percentage of feeds and feedstuffs are contaminated with multiple mycotoxins. The breakdowns for corn silage and corn are almost identical in that fumonisin is the most prominent mycotoxin and is followed by fusaric acid and type B trichothecenes.

Type B trichothecenes are present at low-risk levels in the average sample and may be considered at safe levels by many producers. However, the second most prevalent mycotoxin is fusaric acid, and fusaric acid will act synergistically with DON to magnify the effects of DON. “What appears to be a relatively safe, low-risk level of Type B trichothecenes may be elevated to a moderate risk by fusaric acid,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, nutritionist with Alltech’s mycotoxin management team. “This effect will be manifested as lower dry matter intake, decreased rate of gain, gut irritation and lowered immune response.”

Many times it is not an acute case that can be readily identified, but a chronic situation associated with the ingestion of a low level of mycotoxins over an extended period of time. This results in a wide array of subclinical symptoms that slowly reduce performance, eat away at the producer’s bottom line and compromise herd health. ”Producers need to implement a mycotoxin control program now to reduce the threat to their herds,” said Hawkins. “This is the time to be proactive.”