Alltech 2018 Harvest Analysis indicates high levels of mycotoxins across Europe
Mycotoxins are a concern for livestock producers, as they have toxic properties that impact feed quality as well as animal health and performance. Harvest samples from across Europe that have been submitted to the Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analytical services laboratory in 2018 show high levels of mycotoxins, particularly deoxynivalenol (DON), fusaric acid and fumonisin in areas where there was excessive rainfall during flowering and pollination or late-season rain after heat and drought stress. This situation occurred for grains and forages alike.
«Mycotoxins thrive in changeable conditions, with lack of rain, excessive rainfall or, sometimes, one after the other causing a perfect storm of contamination,» said Dr. Max Hawkins, global technical support with the Alltech® Mycotoxin Management team. «The extreme weather events that we’ve seen this year around the world have led to an increased occurrence of mycotoxins in many countries.»
In Europe, the weather from May to July was dry and drought-like, especially in the north. This weather impacts the types of mycotoxins livestock producers must contend with. However, the weather changed in August, alleviating most of the drought but bringing surplus rain around corn harvest time which often results in the increased presence of trichothecenes and Fusarium-type mycotoxins.
Forage samples from across Europe showed high levels of mycotoxins, which can impair the performance of ruminants. Grass silage samples from Europe showed a 100-percent occurrence of fusaric acid, while corn silage showed a 100-percent occurrence of type B trichothecenes. These mycotoxins can be problematic in ruminants, as they can be detrimental to rumen health and rumen function.
«Corn silage can typically be more problematic, as it’s in the field longer and exposed to more environmental factors,» explained Hawkins. «We also see a bigger risk to mycotoxins, as we’re not just bringing in the grain but the plant itself, which means more mycotoxins are in the mix.»
The biggest threat to the wheat crop and barley in Europe is type B trichothecenes. This mycotoxin was present in over 56 percent of wheat samples and 70 percent of barley samples, and results from Croatia, Serbia and Spain show a 100-percent occurrence of type B trichothecenes. On average, the corn samples showed the presence of three different mycotoxins, mostly coming from fumonisins. These mycotoxins can be particularly damaging for grow finish pigs.
Mycotoxins are seldom found in isolation, and when multiple mycotoxins are consumed, they may have additive, or even synergistic, interactions that increase the overall risk to the animal’s performance and health. As a result, the animal may have a stronger response than what would be expected if it were only experiencing a single mycotoxin challenge.
"The annual Alltech Harvest Analysis, which utilises the Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analysis, provides an assessment of contaminants in feed ingredients and potential risks to livestock. Between labs located in Lexington, Kentucky, and Dunboyne, Ireland, the Alltech Mycotoxin Management program has tested more than 26,000 samples of animal feed, for more than 50 mycotoxins. Establishing a management program for optimum livestock performance and health is important to understanding the risk of mycotoxins.