Leo Brown may work for a seed company, but his job is livestock information manager for Pioneer. He's based in Bloomington, Ill. And after the moldy corn issue reared its head last fall, he's been very busy answering questions and trying to help livestock producers make the best of a less-than-perfect situation.
"We encouraged testing and helped farmers consider the best options for storage last fall if they had moldy corn," Brown says. More recently, we've tried to make producers aware of feeding precautions that they might want to take to prevent concerns."
Refusal to eat feed is one of the early symptoms that corn used to make feed contains vomitoxin, also known as DON, he notes. But the problems can go beyond feed refusal, a symptom that typically show sup first in swine. Other problems that can develop include breeding issues and poor overall performance.
It's not just a swine issue, either, Brown emphasizes,. He's aware that this situation can cause poor performance in d airy cows. It can also affect beef in some situations. Part of the problem is that some of the symptoms can be similar to those caused by other ailments, he notes. Brown's best advice is to work with your nutritionist to put together a plan that makes sense if you're dealing with a potential moldy-corn situation.
Some producers with livestock are just now seeing problems that could be related to toxins. Here's an anecdotal report which may or may not involve the moldy corn issue. A vet in central Indiana reports a much higher number of delivery problems with ewes this season. The ewe fails to dilate properly. While the cause isn't known, the vet says it tends to show up only occasionally, as in every few years. Some believe it may be a toxin related to forage, he says. Whether or not it could be related to toxins in the grain fed to sheep is anybody's guess.
Brown tries to go beyond anecdotal information and help producers, using what is known about handling these situations. Sometimes corn can be blended. Sometimes other compounds can be added that may reduce the effect. At least one commercial feed company is reportedly adding a binder to some of their complete feeds that would reduce any problems with mycotoxins, just in case.