Alltech 2015 European Harvest Analysis confirms swine and poultry feed at risk from mycotoxins

Alexandra Weaver
Alexandra Weaver

From warm to dry to wet, the variations in spring weather conditions across Europe had a prevalent impact on the 2015 European crop, producing irregularities in plant growth and now putting poultry and swine at risk for mycotoxin exposure, according to Alltech’s European Grains Harvest Analysis.

Agronomy, climate, plant stress and storage conditions influence the growth of mycotoxins. “Management practices to prevent exposure are always the best course of action,” said Dr. Alexandra Weaver, Alltech Mycotoxin Management technical specialist.

“It is better to be proactive than reactive in relation to mycotoxins. Producers should consider testing feed samples to understand levels prior to storage and to understand the possible synergistic effects multiple mycotoxins can play in animal health and performance.”

Increased demand on animal performance brings new challenges and risks to today’s farm. Mycotoxins and their impact on the health and performance of animals are inherently linked to these demands and, if left untreated, can affect farm profitability. The annual study samples grains, including barley, corn, oats, rye and wheat from across Europe, testing for mycotoxin contamination to determine the risk posed to monogastrics. The Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analysis found an average of 2.8 mycotoxins per sample that ranged from lower to higher risk for both swine and poultry. More than ninety-one percent of samples tested positive for at least one mycotoxin.

By looking at the overall risk to the animal, known as the Risk Equivalent Quantity (REQ), producers can assess the quality of their feed and identify the risk as low, moderate or high and take steps to minimise the impact of mycotoxins on their animals. According to Weaver, it is not uncommon to find multiple mycotoxins in finished feed. This allows for interactions among mycotoxins and can lead to synergistic or additive effects on the pig.

The harvest analysis revealed the greatest prevalence of Type B Trichothecenes (DON), Fumonisins (FUM) and Penicillium/Aspergillus were found in Western Europe and Type B (DON) and Penicillium/Aspergillus were predominant in Eastern Europe. Ingestion of Fumonisins can cause reduced feed intake and damage to internal organs such as the liver and lungs, suppress the immune system, increase the number of gut pathogens and susceptibility to disease and cause poor vaccination response. Due to the levels present, nursery pigs and grower-finishers are at higher risk and poultry layers and broilers at moderate risk for performance impacts.

According to Weaver, scientific literature shows that on average, the risk levels (moderate) from this year’s European grains may cause nursery pigs a reduction of 14.9 grammes per day in average daily gain and an increase of 0.76 percent feed conversion rate (FCR), requiring an additional three days to reach the desired market weight. With this loss in performance and considering current prices, the reduction in net return per nursery pig is an estimated decrease of €1.21 margin over feed per pig. Grower-finisher pigs could see a reduction in average daily gain by 47.1 grammes per day with an increase in FCR by 13 percent. With this loss in performance, total carcass profit could see a decrease of €4.28 per pig.

At an average risk level (lower) from grains, broilers may exhibit a reduction of 0.1 kilogramme per day in carcass weight per bird. Additionally, FCR may increase by approximately five percent, requiring an extra 2.5 days to reach desired market weight. With this loss in performance and considering current prices, the reduction in net return for broilers is an estimated decrease of €0.17 per bird.

Based on the average risk from European grains for birds from August to December, 2015, layers may decrease production by 3.5 eggs per hen over 55 weeks. The weight of the egg may decrease by 0.3 grammes and, with this loss in performance, the reduction in net return for layers is an estimated €0.38 per hen.

“Even at lower levels, mycotoxins may impact animal health and performance, resulting in a negative impact on profitability,” Weaver said. “Mycotoxin management from field to feedout is critical for reducing risks.”