Poor quality control of feed ingredients can lead to health problems in cattle.

Molds in feeds such as hay are one example.

In most instances, small amounts of mold will not cause problems when fed to livestock. However, feeding moldy hay for prolonged periods to some classes of animals, such as pregnant heifers or younger animals could be harmful.

The Dairy Animal Care & Quality Assurance (DACQA) manual states that appropriate management of all feed ingredients is important for helping cattle achieve proper body condition and optimal health. The Dairy Calf & Heifer Association’s Gold Standards II recommends that you work with a nutritionist to help formulate quality rations and monitor/consult with him routinely.

The DACQA program recommends that forages be tested for mold and mycotoxin contamination. It also recommends that incoming feed ingredients be evaluated for the following:

• Moisture

• Color

• Odor

• Texture

• Presence of foreign material

• Heat damage

• Mold or other spoilage

Harvesting and storing feeds at the correct moisture level will help prevent contamination by molds, mycotoxins and pathogenic bacteria and, at the same time, improve feed efficiency.

DACQA is a voluntary, national certification program intended to enhance and demonstrate quality animal care practices, which assure food safety, quality and value as well as enhance consumer confidence in the milk and beef products that are harvested from cattle on America’s dairy farms. Visit www.animalcaretraining.org to learn more about the certification program.

The Dairy Calf & Heifer Association is the only national association dedicated to serving the dairy calf and heifer industry. For more information about DCHA and the Gold Standards, visit www.calfandheifer.org or call 877-434-3377.