Watch for aflatoxins in feedstuffs

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South Dakota State University Extension Dairy Specialist Alvaro Garcia says aflatoxins are primarily a problem in corn, but they can also occur in other grain crops. Aspergillus, which produces aflatoxins, is among the most common corn mold fungus.

Consumption of low concentrations by animals sensitive to aflatoxins can lead to death in 72 hours. Animals that eat corn contaminated with non-fatal levels of aflatoxins can exhibit signs of impaired health and productivity.

“Research performed at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute suggests that mechanical screening of corn can reduce aflatoxin concentration in contaminated corn,” Garcia says. “Samples from a bin were collected with a probe at depths of 3 feet, 9 feet and 15 feet. The samples were mechanically shaken to separate fines from intact kernels. The aflatoxin concentration in the whole-kernel fractions was 86 to 89 percent lower than that in the fines.”

Garcia also notes that total aflatoxin concentration and concentration in the fines was higher in samples collected at 3 feet than the samples taken at the other depths.

These findings show the difference in aflatoxin concentration at different locations within a bin, which underscores the importance of getting representative samples when assessing aflatoxin concentration. Screening to remove fines can be an effective and practical way to reduce aflatoxin concentration to levels that pose less of a risk when the corn is fed to cattle.

Additional information can be found in SDSU Extension Fact Sheet 907, “Aflatoxins, Hazards in Grain/Aflatoxicosis and Livestock.”

Source: South Dakota State University

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