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0409 PD: Tips to prevent molds and mycotoxins in dairy feed

Published on 25 February 2009

Preventing molds and mycotoxins in dairy cattle feed is imperative to keep a herd healthy and on track to meet operational goals. Since there are few ways to overcome issues once mycotoxins are present, it is essential to prevent them from creeping into the ration.

Molds can infect dairy cattle causing a fungal disease, commonly known as mycosis. This most likely occurs during stressful periods when cows have a suppressed immune system.

Molds can also impact cattle by producing mycotoxins in the feed. Mycotoxins can cause reduced feed intake and nutrient absorption, alter endocrine and exocrine systems, suppress the immune system and alter microbial growth.

This can lead to many issues including protein deficiency, malnutrition, diarrhea, irritability, abnormal behavior and occasional death.

Paul Windchitl, a dairy nutritionist with Hubbard Feeds, offers the following tips to help producers battle against molds and mycotoxins in their operations.

Grain tips

  • Don’t let harvested grains reach moisture levels greater than 15 percent.
  • Store grains in aerated and cool storage if they will not be used for more than two weeks.
  • Protect feedstuffs against rain and water.
  • Check stored feed periodically to determine if heating and molding are occurring.

Hay tips

  • Keep moisture levels under 15 percent. Mold growth may occur in hay at moisture levels greater than 15 percent.

  • Use a forage treatment to prevent mold growth, if moisture levels are high.

  • Create air spaces between bales, reduce size of stacks, alternate direction of stacking and avoid other wet products in the same area to increase drydown of hay.

Silage tips

  • Harvest silage at moisture contents between 60 and 70 percent to ensure a good pack.
  • Cut and wilt forage during favorable weather conditions.
  • Make sure silage is chopped in uniform lengths of 0.5 to 1 inches.
  • Use an effective fermentation aide.
  • Pack silage sufficiently and quickly to eliminate air and cover securely.

High-moisture grain tips

  • Should be stored at proper moisture content levels to exclude air
  • Must be handled in quantities which allow them to be fed within seven days.  PD

—Submitted by Hubbard Feeds Inc.

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