Mycotoxin levels in stored corn and dried distillers grains (DDGs) may be increasing, and could cause damage to poultry and pig production, said Max Hawkins, Alltech mycotoxin management team nutritionist. Crops were reported to be good quality at harvest, but may not have stored well according to results found from about 148 samples.
“Poultry people and swine people might not be able to walk through the barn and see dramatic effects,” he told FeedNavigator. “But there are impacts that can occur to health and performance, whether that be a slight decrease in weight gain or feed efficiency, but that at the end of the grow out period has an impact.”
Having feed ingredients tested would let producers know if there is a problem with some products and if altering the amount used in mixing a feed would be beneficial, he said.
Levels found in the ongoing analysis of corn crop samples could slow gain in pigs by 20-24g a day and what has been found in DDGs samples by up to 100g a day, said Hawkins.
“That would be difficult to walk through the barn and see, but at the end when the animals are sold that would show up,” he said. “Those types of differences, the ones you can’t necessarily see, are what we’re trying to tell people to be on the lookout for.”
One way to determine if higher than expected levels of mycotoxins are present in feed is to track closeout records and see if the process is taking longer or if animals are gaining less, he said. “We’re telling them that mycotoxins may be one area that they’d want to investigate because there could be enough of the issue there to cause a problem,” he added.
In DDGs the increasing mycotoxins are often type B or type A trichothecenes, said Hawkins. The mycotoxins are ones known to alter feed intake, gut health, gain and animal performance.
“Typically distillers’ grains could have mycotoxins that are at three times the level of the corn they were manufactured from,” said Hawkins. However, the current increase is about four to six times the levels of what is being seen in corn.
“There’s a couple of things going on – the corn being used is 2015 corn that hasn’t stored as well and we don’t have a test on it to identify what levels of toxins are in it, or this was 2014 corn that is coming out of storage and those levels would more closely match,” he said. “Distillers [grain] is, on average, higher on mycotoxin content than corn.”
However, there are some concerns about the potential for increasing mycotoxin levels in the corn as well, though changes are less pronounced, he said. The amount of mycotoxins found in samples has increased from a low level risk to become a more moderate-level risk.
If corn is stored in ideal conditions then no mycotoxin amounts should increase during storage, he said. But that does not always happen, and even covered grain that is stored outside may be influenced by weather.
New testing center
In addition to the work done at the company’s US facilities looking at mycotoxin presence in the North American feed supply, Alltech has opened a similar laboratory to focus on detection of challenges in European feed crops.
The new analytic services laboratory is located in Dundoyne, Ireland and opened earlier this week, the company reported. It is the third such mycotoxin detection center for the company, which also has a facility in China.
The Europe-based laboratory will allow the company to offer mycotoxin profiling services in Europe and accelerate that process, Alltech said. “Having such a laboratory in Europe will allow Alltech to investigate more than 38 different mycotoxins quantitatively and more than 50 others qualitatively in animal feed in less than 15 minutes per sample,” it noted.