Livestock producers should test for aflatoxin in corn

A veterinary toxicologist with University of Missouri Extension says aflatoxin is being reported in drought affected corn and dairy and livestock producers should test for it.

Tim Evans says if livestock feed contains corn with high enough levels of the mycotoxin, animals can be harmed and some products from those animals, like milk, cannot be consumed.

“One of the common problems we have with aflatoxin are violated levels in milk. Dairy cows, if exposed to a tiny amount of aflatoxin, can have it show up in the milk and then, that’s a violation.”

Evans says if aflatoxins are present, milk must be dumped.

“In dairy, because they’re producing milk, the concentration that’s allowed is very low, 20 parts per billion,” says Evans. “However, that amount is likely not going to harm the dairy cow. It will probably take about several hundred parts per billion to harm the cow itself.”

Grain farmers can test for mycotoxins at the local grain elevator or in the field. He says it’s important information as farmers keep drought-affected corn on the farm to feed to cattle.

“Looking at breeding cattle and finishing beef cattle, they might be able to have up to 300 parts per billion and the diet is still allowed.”

But Evans says poultry and swine are especially sensitive to mycotoxins and any livestock producer purchasing corn from a drought area should be sending samples to a testing laboratory before feeding it. He says these tests can show other mycotoxins present as well, like vomitoxin.

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