This year’s weather produced the right environment for mycotoxins in grain, creating the potential for animal-health problems. Nutritionist Max Hawkins, with Alltech’s myctoxin management team, offers these tips for minimizing the threat:

• Dry corn to 15 percent moisture or less within 24 to 48 hours of harvest. Reducing the moisture will help to stabilize the mold level and prevent further growth.

• Screen grain to remove fines, broken kernels and foreign material as these are precursors to increased mold growth.

• Have all grain or grain-based ingredients analyzed for mycotoxins. This should be a comprehensive analysis that looks at numerous mycotoxins, not just one or two. There are more than 500 known mycotoxins, and the greatest percentage of samples contain from two to five mycotoxins.

• Conduct mycotoxin analysis regularly throughout the storage process, as temperature and moisture changes will affect mold growth.

• When purchasing ingredients, it may be difficult to locate mycotoxin-free feedstuffs. Many producers may find ingredients from certain areas that are consistently higher and will need to search for another source. Know the levels of mycotoxins that can be fed and the guideline limit that should not be fed to specific classes of livestock.