Press Releases



Europe - Do You Know What’s Growing In Your 2013 Stored Crop?

Analytical Services Laboratory, powered by Alltech, Winchester, Kentucky

[DUNBOYNE, Ireland] – At the beginning of this year, Alltech’s 37+™ survey of European feedstuffs warned that corn and wheat samples analysed from 2013’s harvested crop contained multiple mycotoxins. Approximately ten months on from harvest, producers are facing new challenges as rising temperatures, moisture levels, crop damage and feed management contribute to further mould growth and the development of storage mycotoxins.  

Over the past ten months, Alltech®, through its 37+™ Program continued to monitor and identify the level of mycotoxin contamination in feeds and stored feedstuffs from Europe’s 2013 harvested crop.

According to Dr. Max Hawkins, a nutritionist with Alltech’s Mycotoxin Management Team, producers need to think about what they are feeding their animals. Hawkins stated that the simultaneous presence of multiple mycotoxins is a real concern in Europe. “Our mycotoxin management research team have developed the Risk Equivalent Quantity (REQ), one figure that represents the overall risk to a species’ health and performance by considering the challenge as a whole. This approach reflects the challenges facing commercial producers and allows them to get a truer sense of the risks associated with their feed.”   

“Total mixed rations (TMR) samples (122) analysed from July 2013 – June 2014 had an average of 7.33 mycotoxins per sample. The predominant mycotoxins were Type B Trichothecenes, Fusaric Acid, Penicillium mycotoxins and Fumonisins,” Hawkins said. “The REQ for TMR to be fed to dairy, beef and calves extends into the high risk category and has increased to more than twice what it was at harvest. This level of feed contamination can negatively affect dry matter intake, feed efficiency, gut health, immune response, milk production and many other areas.”

Analysis of European grass silage (38) samples for the same period followed a similar trend. Both type A & B Trichothecenes were the most prevalent toxins, followed by Ergot toxins and Fumonisins. On average, samples contained 4.92 mycotoxins.

“The REQ for beef for both TMR and grass silages is slightly lower than that of dairy cows and calves. Beef cattle, when compared to dairy cows, have a higher threshold due to lower dry matter intake and production stress. This does not mean that there is no risk involved, just that the risk is slightly lower,” said Hawkins. “Producers should pay particular attention to the REQ for TMR and grass silage being fed to calves due to their low tolerance to mycotoxins and developing immunity.”  

Alltech’s Analytical Services laboratory also analysed finished feed (99) samples over the same 12 month period and found an average of 7.09 mycotoxins per sample. The main mycotoxins present included Type B Trichothecenes, Fumonisins, Aspergillus and Penicillium mycotoxins and Fusaric Acid.

“The presence of Fusaric Acid is significant as it can act synergistically with DON (Type B Trichothecene) to magnify the effects of DON. It can also lower blood pressure, which will decrease blood flow to the gut and can decrease nutrient uptake, growth and feed efficiency,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins cautions pig producers as REQ values for both grow/finishers and nursery pigs is at high risk levels. “Nursery pigs are highly sensitive to mycotoxins due to the demands on their developing immunity. Pig producers should look out for reduced feed intake and poor group uniformity. Decreased feed efficiency, poor gut health and suppressed immune responses are also likely if mycotoxin management practices are not in place.”   

Poultry producers face a similar situation. The REQ for finished feeds for broilers and layers is at a cautionary level. Decreases in feed intake, growth, egg production, egg quality, gut health and immune status can be seen over time if left uncontrolled.

European wheat (112) and corn (41) samples are also being monitored using Alltech’s 37+ Program. Fumonisins, Fusaric Acid, Type B Trichothecenes and aflatoxins were the most prevalent in corn samples while wheat samples contained Type B Trichothecenes, Ergot toxins and Aspergillus toxins in greater numbers. The feedstuffs contained an average of 5.07 and 9.2 mycotoxins respectively. “As with all feed ingredients, the inclusion rate will determine the mycotoxin contribution to the final diets,” said Hawkins.

“The findings from Alltech’s 37+ storage survey from July 2013 to June 2014 show an increase in mycotoxin risk in European feedstuffs and complete feeds. This increase presents a more complex challenge to livestock health and performance,” said Hawkins.

According to Hawkins, producers should be proactive in monitoring mycotoxin presence and should incorporate a mycotoxin management programme.

“The main objective is to continually monitor the stored grain for temperature and moisture, to check for mould growth and analyse for mycotoxin production, prior to feeding to livestock and poultry,” Hawkins said. “Be aware of the effects of multiple mycotoxins, implement a mycotoxin control programme and be prepared for storage management of the new crop in 2014.”