Minimizing mycotoxin contamination in your swine feed

Posted on November 29, 2016 in Swine Performance
By Dr. Leah Gesing

Mycotoxin contamination in swine feed is going to be a concern for many producers in the year ahead.  We can’t change the situation, but, with proper education, awareness and mitigation strategies, we can limit the negative impact mycotoxins can have on your operation.  As we finish the 2016 harvest and begin to include the new corn crop and by-products from the new crop in swine diets, keep the following points in mind:

  • Monogastric animals, like swine, are particularly sensitive to mycotoxins.  Young pigs and breeding swine are the most susceptible.  Research shows pigs are most sensitive to T-2 toxin, deoxynivalenol (DON or vomitoxin) and zearalenone.
  • Feeding mycotoxin-contaminated feedstuffs in a swine diet can not only result in immediate reduced performance, but also negatively impact long-term performance and cause irreversible tissue damage.  Zearalenone has also been shown to have significant impacts on fertility in breeding herds.
  • Mycotoxins exert a collective force.  If several mycotoxins are present at low concentrations in a swine diet, they can exert similar negative effects as one mycotoxin present at a high concentration.  Certain mycotoxins are commonly present in combination with others.  For example, zearalenone contamination often occurs in combination with DON contamination.
  • Testing feedstuffs known to harbor mycotoxins is a good routine practice.  However, most tests only measure the main mycotoxins known to impact livestock in the U.S.  Although we know of several hundred mycotoxins currently, thousands more are thought to exist.  Additionally, some mycotoxin metabolites are just as toxic as the mycotoxins themselves, yet they can’t be detected with many of the current mycotoxin screenings.  Therefore, while mycotoxin testing can be an excellent way to assist in diagnosing a problem, it should not be used to definitively rule out a mycotoxin problem.
  • Be extra cautious of mycotoxin contamination in distillers’ dried grains with solubles (DDGS).  It has been reported that, after DDGS production, mycotoxins in DDGS may concentrate up to three times the levels present in the corn before DDGS production.  This means that, even if the starting grain had mycotoxin levels below the general concern level before the DDGS production process, the feedstuff could reach dangerous levels after the production and impact animal performance.

It is Vita Plus standard operating procedure to do routine visual inspections and lab testing of feedstuffs used to make our swine feeds.  Every ingredient must meet all of our guidelines before it is released to a customer.

If you would like to learn more about our quality assurance processes and mycotoxin mitigation strategies to use on your operation, contact your Vita Plus consultant today.

About the author:  Dr. Leah Gesing is a Vita Plus swine technical sales and support specialist.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science from Iowa State University.  She continued there to earn her master’s degree in animal physiology, studying on-farm factors affecting market hog transport losses.  She then went on to the University of Illinois to earn her Ph.D. in animal sciences.  While in school, Gesing was involved with numerous research projects, teaching experiences, internships, and international travel.  Specifically, she conducted applied research in swine genetics, health, management and reproduction with Dr. Mike Ellis.  Her Ph.D. project evaluated the effect of timing of OvuGel® administration on reproductive performance in gilts synchronized for estrus.

Category: Feed quality and nutrition
Swine Performance