Research – Mycotoxins impact feed quality in 2021 European grain harvest

All About Feed

Extreme weather patterns across Europe in 2021 have been blamed for increased levels of mycotoxins in arable crops creating concerns over the subsequent quality of animal feed.

Mycotoxins, which are produced by certain species of moulds, are a concern for livestock producers due to their ability to influence feed quality and subsequent animal health and performance.

During extensive research across a number of European countries, a pattern of increased mycotoxins has been documented in the latest harvest analysis report from Alltech, in collaboration with SGS.

Just under 1,200 samples of barley, wheat, corn, corn silage, grass silage, alfalfa haylage, triticale, straw and whole crop silage (wheat and barley) were taken for analysis. Several farms or animal feed production sites across Russia, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, Romania, Germany, Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Greece, Belarus, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine were involved in the data gathering.

Moderate to high risk

Data collected for the key feed ingredients indicated the presence of moderate to high levels of mycotoxin risk. Across all samples, there was an average of 4.34 mycotoxins detected, with 98.5% containing at least 1 mycotoxin and 86.1% containing 2 or more mycotoxins.

Type B-trichothecenes were found in 87% of the grain samples, which is a similar number to those found in 2020. The highest concentration of deoxynivalenol or DON (10,914 ppb) was detected in a Danish straw sample. Out of over 600 corn samples analysed, 24% of these contained aflatoxins, a notably higher percentage than 2020 and something feed and livestock producers should be aware of when putting mycotoxin control plans in place for the coming season.

Of the corn samples analysed using an LC-MS/MS method, fusaric acid was the most prominent mycotoxin, detected in 96.7% of samples, while type B-trichothecenes and fumonisins were found in 90% and 83% of samples, respectively.

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