Cold and wet weather conditions this fall have increased the risk of moldy feed.

Molds have the potential to produce mycotoxins and can reduce feed intake and alter rumen fermentation, negatively impacting your herd’s performance, points out Elliot Block, senior manager of technology at Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition.

At the first sight of moldy feed, be proactive and counteract the negative nutritional effects that mold and mycotoxins can have on rumen performance, he says. The following tips can help maintain peak performance even when feed quality may not be at its best:

  • Routinely test feeds: Research shows that slow-drying seasons and mold lead to a drop in the energy content of corn grain by as much as 5 percent. Test feed ingredients for energy content and mycotoxins and make ration adjustments to account for these differences.
  • Rethink the ration: Moldy feeds can depress the immune system and lead to respiratory and milk-quality problems. Feeding poorer-quality feeds in tandem with higher-quality ones can help minimize the negative effects that moldy feeds can have on cattle performance. 
  • Put the rumen first: Incorporating buffers and mold inhibitors can help reduce the impact toxins have on the digestive system. Feed buffers to help improve rumen performance, maintain dry matter intake and stabilize acid production in the rumen. To keep the rumen functioning efficiently, feed rumen-fermentation enhancers to provide rumen bugs with the building blocks necessary for peak performance.

By making proactive management plans now, you can offset the potential issues of moldy feed and set strategies to avoid the problems that can result. Consult your nutritionist or veterinarian to help ensure that this year’s harvest is put to good use without negatively affecting your herd.