Minimising the effect of mycotoxins - Elders Rural Services
Close-up of mycotoxins-in-wheat-head

Minimising the effect of mycotoxins

There is no silver bullet to tackle the threat of mycotoxins. To reduce the risk to both animal health and business profitability, a targeted approach is needed, consisting of different tools to evaluate the mycotoxin risk.

With high moisture levels present following a successful harvest season, large amounts of stored grain kept in high moisture environments have a risk of producing moulds, which in turn significantly increases the risk of mycotoxin related problems when fed to livestock.

While it is advisable not to feed animals mycotoxin affected grains, the issue is not often visible and therefore risk mitigation through a targeted approach is required.

Effects of mycotoxins on livestock production

Mycotoxins are produced as a survival mechanism when moulds are stressed by extreme weather conditions and/or in competition for a feed source with other microbes. Mycotoxins are commonly found on grains, silages, hay, and other by-products used as stock feed. If fed these contaminated feeds, your stock can suffer from digestive disorders, lower feed intake, immune challenges, and increased susceptibility to disease.

The three most common mycotoxins in livestock production are Aflatoxin (Afla), Zearalenone (Zea) and Deoxynivalenol (DON). Aflatoxins are the most common mycotoxin found in Australia.

It is difficult to visually identify dangerous levels of mycotoxins in stock feeds, as contamination is often limited to sections of the stored feed stuff. Even the absence of visible mould does not exclude the presence of mycotoxins, as the chemical compound of the toxin persists in the feed even if the mould dies off.

Alltech Lienert nutritionist Gabby Brooke said they have developed a Mycotoxin Management toolbox to combat the threat of these mycotoxins.

“It focuses on the preservation of feed and raw materials, as well as helping to monitor contamination levels to protect your livestock,” said Ms Brooke.

Testing programs

It is advisable to routinely conduct mycotoxin tests to evaluate feed. Alltech Lienert’s  RapiRead™ tool determines the level of the three mycotoxins Afla, DON and Zea. A more in-depth evaluation can be undertaken using Alltech’s 37+ analysis, which tests for more than 50 mycotoxins.

These tests provide insight into the presence and concentrations of mycotoxins. It also reports on symptoms, expected loss of production and mitigation strategies.

The Alltech RAPIREAD can be used to test for the three most common mycotoxins.

Mixed feed

Producers can also protect animals by including a mycotoxin binder. A binder consists of absorbent ingredients and should ensure broad-spectrum efficacy. It’s wise to select a binder that has no negative interactions with diet ingredients (vitamins, medications) and has a proven track record.

Mycosorb A+ is a second-generation product from Alltech that tackles mycotoxin challenges as a whole, rather than dealing with individual mycotoxins. Mycosorb A+ has multiple functional carbohydrates, from both yeast cell wall and algae origin, which bind a wide range of mycotoxins, reducing the overall concentration of these toxins. Each gram of yeast cell wall in Mycosorb A+ provides roughly 20m² of surface area for binding. By removing the mycotoxin from the gastrointestinal tract, Mycosorb A+ prevents it from being transferred into the body of the animal.

Prevention is key for optimum health

While individual mycotoxins present a threat, the synergistic and/or additive effects of multiple occurring mycotoxins and their interactions become critical to the health of your livestock.

“Prevention of such a mycotoxin challenge is key for the optimum health of your livestock and the long-term profitability of your operation” concludes Ms Brooke.

Alltech Lienert offers tailor-made mycotoxin management programs to assist you with prevention and mitigation of mycotoxin challenges.

Article written by Gabby Brooke, Nutritionist and Matt Bastian, Ruminant Sales Representative, Alltech Lienert Australia for Seasons magazine. 

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