- Elevated levels of mycotoxins detected in the first half of 2017 persist in many regions worldwide.
- While, corn (maize) and its by-products are commonly contaminated by mycotoxins, other feed ingredients such as soybeans appear to have a heightened risk of contamination.
- Co-contamination of samples by multiple mycotoxins is quite frequent. A full 75% of samples tested for multiple mycotoxins were shown to contain 2 or more mycotoxins.
“The uptick in mycotoxin contamination levels recorded in the first half of 2017 compared to 2016 has continued through September,” observed Dr Timothy Jenkins, Mycotoxin Risk Management Product Manager at BIOMIN.
In addition to detailing mycotoxin occurrence levels, the most recently published BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey report contains total risk level calculations per region. The total risk level expresses the percentage of samples with at least one mycotoxin above its threshold level—the parts per billion figure at which a particular mycotoxin could impair the health or performance of farm animals.
“Total risk level indicates the possibility of encountering a mycotoxin-related issue when feeding animals ingredients sourced from a particular region,” explained Dr Jenkins. “The global nature of the commodity trade and local factors that contribute to mycotoxin contamination make it useful for each operation to test feed ingredients as part of a regular mycotoxin detection program.”
Corn from the Americas
“There is an ongoing high risk of the mycotoxins deoxynivalenol (DON), zearalenone (ZEN) and fumonisins (FUMs) in North America from the 2016 corn harvest, and we see a similar trajectory in the current harvest,” noted Dr Jenkins.
Analytical results of 170 samples of 2017 US corn revealed that 80% of samples contained deoxynivalenol, 48% contained zearalenone and 58% contained fumonisins above the recommended risk threshold.
“These numbers are closely related to wet conditions during silking and, in the case of fumonisins, some higher temperatures leading up to harvest,” explained Dr Jenkins.
“The risk in South American corn appears to be higher so far in 2017 compared to 2016 in all of the three main corn mycotoxins: deoxynivalenol, zearalenone and fumonisins,” Dr Jenkins observed.
Analytical results of 3012 samples of South American corn revealed that 79% of samples contained deoxynivalenol, 25% contained zearalenone and 80% contained fumonisins above the recommended risk threshold.
South American soya
“Soybeans are usually at a lower mycotoxin risk than many other crops, but risk of deoxynivalenol in many Brazilian soybean samples and zearalenone in Argentinian samples show an elevated risk for the last two years,” noted Dr Jenkins.
Analytical results of 842 samples of 2017 soybean from Brazil revealed that 94% of samples contained deoxynivalenol above the recommended risk threshold. 61% of 484 samples of 2017 soybean from Argentina contained zearalenone above the recommended risk threshold.
Wet weather in the lead up to harvest in some parts of South America have contributed to another year of higher risk in soybeans in some South American regions.
Multiple mycotoxin presence
Consistent with results noted in the first half of 2017, 75% of samples analyzed contained two or more mycotoxins—presenting additional risks to farm animals. Certain combinations of mycotoxins are known to have synergistic effects that aggravate their negative consequences.
“Low level multiple mycotoxin contamination leads to poorer feed efficiency and low growth rates in many animal species,” observed Dr Jenkins. “The synergistic effects and subclinical symptoms of mycotoxins may have a greater economic impact for the industry than severe mycotoxicosis,” he concluded.
Tips and solutions for protecting animals
Dr Jenkins offered several tips on mitigating the risk associated with mycotoxins. “First, test your feed ingredients. Second, avoid contaminated feed when possible. Third, pay attention to feed storage conditions,” he suggested.
“Even the most strenuous prevention efforts cannot stop mycotoxin contamination of feedstuffs from occurring. In the face of multiple mycotoxins in feed, the most reliable, safe and effective solution is to employ proven strategies that toxins in the intestinal tract of animals,” he advised.
About the survey
The annual BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey constitutes the longest running and most comprehensive survey of its kind. The survey results provide insights on the incidence of the six major mycotoxins in the agricultural commodities used for livestock feed in order to identify the potential risk posed to livestock animal production.