Providing farmers and their advisers with real-time information on the most problematic mycotoxins with their level of contamination is the recent report published by Cargill.

Cargill has published its global Mycotoxin Report for 2023, which is now in its third year, the report now includes analyses of forages making it relevant and useful to all livestock species.

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The report includes 360,000 analyses from 145,000 raw material samples, from at least 150 feed plants and across 43 countries. More than 17,000 forage mycotoxin analyses have been included in the 2023 report.

Providing information on the most problematic mycotoxins, their level of contamination and performance risk rates and species sensitivity when exposed to a given mycotoxin.

To ensure its usefulness at a local level, global mycotoxin contamination levels and their risks are split into regions and countries.

Key points:

In 2023, mycotoxin contamination levels were slightly lower than in 2022 with 70% of samples being positive and 37% of the analyses exceeding Cargill’s performance risk thresholds.

The top three mycotoxins to watch for due to their prevalence and risk levels are Deoxynivalenol (DON Vomitoxin), Fumonisin (FUM), and Zearalenone (ZEN).

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In 2023, there was a notable increase (+7%) in FUM analyses surpassing performance risk thresholds, while both the prevalence of DON (-1%) and ZEN (-9%) decreased.

Three or more mycotoxins were detected in 78% of analyses showing the frequency of contamination with multiple mycotoxins.

Mycotoxin risk assessment

Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins produced by fungi. Levels can vary by ingredient and region, and they can affect species differently.

Risk assessments take account of the contamination rate and level and the species sensitivity. Real time data used by Cargill as the database continues to be updated, provides the most accurate risk assessments for use in the industry and on farm.

Many factors affect the type and level found in feed ingredients and an accurate assessment of their presence in real time is required to implement effective control in diets used in livestock production.

Although ruminants are less sensitive to mycotoxin contamination in feeds, the inclusion of forage analyses adds to the report’s usefulness in ruminant mycotoxin risk evaluation.

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High concentrations of mycotoxins can result in clinical symptoms, but many feeds have low to moderate levels.

There is increasing evidence that mycotoxins have subclinical and indirect effects on performance loss.

Livestock can unknowingly be affected by mycotoxin contamination which can affect their immune system, degrade nutrient absorption and vaccine response.

Feed intake and fertility can be affected, as well as meat, egg or milk production.

In the dairy sector, transition cows may be more susceptible than others in the herd due to the combination of toxin stresses and other stress factors affecting cows in this period.

Threshold level

There is a recognised correlation between the presence of mycotoxins and the performance of the animal. The effect on performance depends on the level of mycotoxin in feeds and there is a defined threshold at which production takes a hit.

Regulatory detection levels set this threshold when clinical symptoms become evident, which it applies in its risk assessment tools, at the level at which performance starts to decline.

Calculating the risk of mycotoxin contamination in feeds and assessing the losses is an essential part of good husbandry.

The mycotoxin impact calculator estimates the loss in performance by referencing the feed material alongside the database data.

From this, it calculates the effect of the mycotoxin contamination on animal performance in each farm situation. These data-backed insights help customers identify and mitigate mycotoxins so performance can be maximised and financial losses mitigated.

Accurate decisions can then be taken on whether mitigating mycotoxin measures, like feed additives, are necessary.

Anti-mycotoxin additive

Farmers and their advisers can assess the value of an anti-mycotoxin additive and the most appropriate product and dosage based on type of mycotoxin and the contamination rate.

As Cargill continues to increase the scale of its mycotoxin analyses it gets an even better understanding of the magnitude of their impact, and its risk assessments become more accurate.

This means that feed mills and farmers can then adopt a targeted approach to mycotoxin mitigation.

“The report equips farmers and their advisers about the information they need to implement to be proactive and have effective control plans in place,” said Clement Soulet, global anti-mycotoxin agent category manager for Cargill’s animal nutrition business.