In many cases, mycotoxins won’t alert livestock producers to their presence. There may be no visible mold and no bad smell. Yet, the infestation can be there — waiting to drag down production, decrease herd health, lower fertility and even be a food safety hazard.
“While mycotoxins are produced by specific molds, visible signs of mold may not translate to measurable mycotoxin levels and vice versa,” says Renato Schmidt, Technical Services — Silage, Lallemand Animal Nutrition. “It’s virtually impossible to completely avoid mycotoxin exposure. The toxins can be produced both on the growing crop and during storage and feedout.”
To help reduce mycotoxin production, producers can plant insect- and disease-resistant varieties, avoid leaving stubble standing in the field and practice crop rotation. It helps to avoid or minimize the effects of plant stressors like inadequate fertilization. Still, producers cannot avoid damage from pest infestation or weather events that can predispose crops to mold infestation and mycotoxin production.
When the crop has been stressed or physically damaged, the potential for mold infestation significantly increases. In these cases, Schmidt advises producers to take extra care with silage management.
— Adapted from an article by Lallemand Animal Nutrition.