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Focus on Eight States:
What’s the Risk in 2021 Corn Silage

Dairy cows across a span of eight states — from Iowa east to New York — face a moderate to higher risk of mycotoxins from 2021 corn silage. This crop contains multiple mycotoxins more than 99% of the time, averaging between five and seven mycotoxins per sample.

Geographically, these corn silage samples show relatively uniform risk distribution. But as always, lower-risk samples may be side-by-side with higher-risk samples, which shows the need for testing to identify the risk for individual farms to best identify the risk challenge for each operation’s cows.

Challenges to the past year’s corn silage crop included drought, flooding, insects, disease, hail, and wind. All these stressors can foster conditions that increase the presence of soil-borne molds, which can infest the plant and produce mycotoxins that can impact dairy herd health and productivity.

In 2018 and 2019, a lot of rain across the central and eastern Corn Belt generated a high mycotoxin risk. Then 2020 brought more normal weather and a moderate mycotoxin risk. While drought was a widespread concern in 2021, rainfall in August and September provided an ideal environment for the manifestation of Fusarium molds, which produce a variety of mycotoxins that can impact dairy production.

Fusarium-produced mycotoxins include deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2, zearalenone, fumonisin and a miscellaneous group identified simply as “emerging mycotoxins.” To compound the risk, multiple mycotoxins often appear together in corn silage. Both additive and synergistic actions among these mycotoxins can create a greater risk for the cow.

Type B trichothecenes pose the greatest threat to dairy animals. These mycotoxins include DON as well as AcDon (types 3 and 15), DON-3-glucoside, nivalenol, and fusareon X. The risk trend of type B trichothecenes in 2021 corn silage shows that longer the crop was exposed to an environmental challenge, the higher the risk level.

The negative impacts of this group of mycotoxins can include lower dry matter intake (DMI), diminished milk production, decreased rumen function, digestive issues, lower embryo survivability, ulcerations and irritation of the gut wall lining, diminished liver function, and decreased immune function, which impacts the animal’s ability to fend off infections and health challenges.

For more information on toxin testing contact Matt Neumayer.

And reach out to D&D today…





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