U.S. feed and livestock producers have more reason to carefully monitor mycotoxin contamination in feed and crops, according to results of the latest BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey.  

In total, 387 corn samples and 79 distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) samples were sourced from across the U.S. in 2016. A full 90 percent of corn samples and 100 percent of DDGS samples tested positive for at least one mycotoxin.

Higher risk

“The mycotoxin threat was higher in 2016 than in 2015,” stated Raj Murugesan, technical and marketing director of BIOMIN America. “Deoxynivalenol (DON), fumonisins (FUM) and zearalenone (ZEN) in particular present a potential risk to livestock animal production. This gives greater importance to regular monitoring of feed, crops and silages,” he added.

2016 US corn highlights:

  • Deoxynivalenol saw slightly higher occurrence at 75 percent (72 percent in 2015) and average contamination levels at 1670 ppb (691 ppb in 2015).  
  • Fumonisins’ prevalence reached 72 percent (52 percent in 2015) with an average contamination level of 4424 ppb.
  • Zearalenone became much more prevalent at 42 percent (17 percent in 2015) while the average contamination also made a jump to 412 ppb from 247 ppb in 2015.

“All three major toxins (DON, FUM, and ZEN) have an increased prevalence in U.S. corn harvested in 2016 in comparison to 2015,” said Erika Hendel, swine technical manager at BIOMIN.

2016 US DDGS highlights:

  • All 79 DDGS samples tested positive for deoxynivalenol, averaging 2681 ppb.
  • Fumonisins and zearalenone were very prevalent at 88 percent and 71 percent of samples, respectively.

“Ninety-six percent of DDGS samples had more than one mycotoxin present in 2016,” said Paige Gott, ruminant technical manager at BIOMIN.  

“Rainfall during corn’s silking period along with warmer average temperatures are likely to have contributed to greater Fusarium fungi growth,” said Murugesan. Fusarium fungi can produce several mycotoxins including deoxynivalenol (DON), fumonisins (FUM) and zearalenone (ZEN).

Impacts on animals

The presence of mycotoxins is associated with poorer feed quality, impaired animal performance and health challenges.

“Certain combinations of mycotoxins are known to have synergistic effects,” said Murugesan. “That means a magnified negative impact to animals, even at reasonably low levels.”

Recent research has shown that either deoxynivalenol or fumonisins or their combination, even at concentrations allowed under European and U.S. guidelines for mycotoxins, can worsen the incidence and severity of necrotic enteritis in broiler chickens.