Early indications from the 2018 corn silage crop indicate that mycotoxins, resulting from disease infection, in corn are and will be a concern heading in to the winter feeding season.
As silage is sometimes the yellow flag ahead of grain corn harvest, agronomists and livestock nutritionists alike are encouraging farmers to get harvest wrapped up as quickly as possible, and get the crop ensiled or dry soon after.
That’s because mycotoxin development — often from fusarium or gibberella infection — continues under warm, wet conditions in the field, bin, or bag.
Ruminant technical services manager with Shur-Gain, Chelsea Gordon, says farmers will need to be testing early in order to keep the toxin parts per million within a safe range this fall and winter.
“Yes, we do have binders, but there’s a limit to how many you can feed through,” Gordon says, adding that total mixed rations (TMR) should likely be tested as a whole first, with ingredient testing done as a follow up if the ration ends up over the 3 ppm threshold.
If you do end up with a higher than ideal toxin reading, it’s important to use all the tools available — such as feeding binders, as mentioned, but also potentially sourcing different ration additions. It’s also important to target less-than-ideal feeds towards those animals in the production cycle that will better tolerate slightly elevated levels.
For example, calves under six months of age or cows in peak lactation will likely be the most sensitive, but Gordon cautions that too-high levels of certain mycotoxins can negatively impact fertility, so plan accordingly.
Hear more on this topic below, as Gordon was a guest on Wednesday’s edition of RealAg Radio: