Tips for on-site mycotoxin testing and alleviation

1. Mycotoxins are a common occurrence
All indicators suggest that feed and livestock industry professionals often encounter a mycotoxin challenge. More than 60% of those who attendees indicated during the in-session poll that they had encountered a problem with mycotoxins in the last year. These results are in line with what published in the latest BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey, where an average risk level of 62% has been observed that means nearly two-thirds of samples had at least one mycotoxin above the threshold levels. On a regional basis, risk levels ranged from a low of 46% in the Middle East to a high of 80% in Asia. Consequently, it’s a good idea to implement regular mycotoxin testing of crops and feed ingredients.
2. Proper sampling is key
A full 80% of participants said they test for mycotoxins. Asked how they test for mycotoxins, 55% of the respondents use an external analytical service, and a further 25% test on-site. No matter how a test is performed, a correct sampling plan is the basis for achieving reliable results. Generally, 88% of total analytical error stems from improper sampling, so it’s important to do it correctly.
In the EU, there are guidelines for sampling where the full procedure is outlined step by step. Mycotoxins are heterogeneously distributed in the lot, and tend to accumulate in so-called ‘hot spots’ in response to the repartition of water, air and other factors that can accelerate fungal growth in some areas rather than others.
To get a representative sample, it’s important collect a great number of incremental samples from everywhere in the lot and at different heights, in order to have the complete picture of what is going on in the silo. Also, the FAO offers a mycotoxin sampling tool that can be used to check sampling plan.
3. Low level combinations are common, potentially harmful
Multiple mycotoxin contamination of feed presents additional problems, as certain combinations of mycotoxins are known to have synergistic effects that aggravate the negative consequences for animals.
Dr. Timothy Jenkins explained several concerns related to mycotoxin occurrence below regulatory and guidance levels. He shared research showing that low levels of deoxynivalenol (DON) and fumonisins (FUM) in poultry resulted in lesions in the liver and intestines, and that these signs of intestinal damage are not easily or immediately detected in flocks. Furthermore, the same combination of deoxynivalenol and fumonisins has been shown to reduce vaccine response.
Given that two-thirds of the over 16000 samples analyzed as part of the BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey contained two or more mycotoxins, it’s important to consider mycotoxins that are not tested, or the presence of multiple mycotoxins and their effects on animals.
4. Think broad spectrum protection
A good binder is only a good start, unless the contamination is exclusively aflatoxin-related. Around 40% of the audience uses a binder added to the diet. While certain bentonite-based binders have been through extensive controls and are authorized by official authorities as an effective solution against aflatoxins, this is often not sufficient to protect against the wide variety of mycotoxins encountered on the farm. For the most advanced mycotoxin risk management possible, a broad spectrum solution is suggested
5. Feed management is a good strategy, but it needs extra help
Another 45% of respondents said that they use feed management for mycotoxin mitigation. Indeed, feed and farm management will work well if properly applied. It has been demonstrated that operations such as crop rotation, tillage, sanitation of equipment and storage facilities, moisture control, etc., are valid strategies for reduction of fungal growth and consequent mycotoxin production.
However, some of the most dangerous mycotoxins are produced on the field. In fact, on the field plants are exposed to a huge variety of stresses that facilitates the attack from mycotoxigenic fungi like Fusarium ssp. such as drought periods, insect attacks, plant diseases, etc. Therefore, the use of a registered deactivator is good practice to ensure high quality.
The suggestions has been picked from recent webinar on mycotoxin testing and survey results by BIomin, in cooperation with Romer Labs.
Source: Biomin by Michele MUCCIO, Biomin