Phibro Animal Health Works with Dr. Lon Whitlow on Preventing, Recognizing and Mitigating Mycotoxin Contamination
Knowledge is Power
Preventing, Recognizing and Mitigating Mycotoxin Contamination
It is not a riddle — it’s mycotoxins, which dairy producers must contend with on a regular basis. Left unchecked, they can be detrimental to the health, immunity and productivity of your herd.
Fortunately, the more you know about mycotoxins, the easier they are to prevent, recognize and mitigate.
…often present. Unfortunately, mycotoxins routinely occur in feeds. They are worse in some years and in some areas when unfavorable weather occurs, but dairy producers must deal with some level of mycotoxins all the time.
…chronic. The effects of mycotoxins on dairy cows are usually chronic, meaning that they progress slowly, due to a continual intake of low levels of mycotoxins. Symptoms become more pronounced over time.
…disruptive. The general effects of mycotoxins may include one of more of the following: digestive upsets, diarrhea, reduced intake, lower milk production, immune suppression (often resulting in increased disease incidence) and reproductive loss.
…exacerbated by air and water. While mycotoxins can occur in any feed, silage and other wet feeds may be the most problematic. Molds need two things to grow and produce mycotoxins: 1. oxygen and 2. moisture. The ensiling process is never perfect, and silages often contain areas of deterioration, along with unwanted bacteria, yeasts and molds. Preservatives can help protect wet feeds from mycotoxin contamination, but mold can (and often does) grow after prolonged storage and exposure to air.
…detrimental to dairy cow productivity. Even herds that are well managed and highly productive can face mycotoxin problems. Affected herds may produce fewer pounds of milk and/or be more prone to disease and higher culling rates. When these issues occur, it is imperative that dairy producers address them; “management as usual” will not solve mycotoxin problems.
…mitigated by feed additives. Fortunately, there are feed strategies and supportive therapies available to help producers maintain healthy, productive dairy cows. Feed strategies not only help remove contaminated feeds but also may help minimize animal stress, enhance rumen fermentation, improve palatability to encourage intake, and add extra nutrients, proteins and energy. In doing so, they help reduce mycotoxin availability while supporting gut health and immunity.
To learn more about how feed strategies can help prevent or mitigate mycotoxin contamination, visit Phibro at the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) at Booth #C11061 or contact your local Phibro representative.
While all wet feeds are subject to mycotoxin contamination, it is more prevalent in certain types of silage. Those most prone to mycotoxins are:
- High in starch – HM corn, corn silage and small-grain silages
- Stressed in the field – There’s a correlation between stress in the field and signs of fungal disease at harvest
- Dry, mature and/or harvested late
- Poorly packed and covered (aerated)
- Poorly fermented
- Have a slow feed-out (aerated)
- Moved and repacked (aerated)
- Fed during warmer weather
- Subject to prolonged, poor storage
- Kept in intermediate feeding piles
If you are feeding silage that has been subject to one or more of these conditions, be alert for signs of mycotoxins in your corn — or symptoms of mycotoxin poisoning in your dairy cattle. By being vigilant in watching for the presence of mycotoxins, you can prevent a costly epidemic of mycotoxin contamination in your dairy herd.