Feed Articles

This has been a banner year for feed grain production across much of Southern Minnesota.  Grain quality into our feed mills has been excellent.  If ongoing tests results continue, it appears we will be working with corn that averages 57# and 8% crude protein.  The slightly lower protein and good test weight should correspond to better than average starch (energy). While the crop quality appears to be excellent, mycotoxin testing has picked up low levels of vomitoxin (DON) and zearalonone.  Aflatoxin, fumonisin and T2 do not appear to be an issue in this area.  While we continue to monitor mycotoxins, it does not appear that levels in southern Minnesota will reach levels of concern for most livestock.  That said, sows and nursery pigs are more vulnerable and precautions are warranted.  Poultry and cattle are more tolerant, but dairy cattle feeds should continue to be monitored.  Rations with high levels of distillers grains should be watched closely because of the concentrating effect of ddgs production.  Other feeds such as silage, hay, byproducts and bedding can also harbor mycotoxins.  Why are we seeing the issues when feeds appear to be very good quality?  Several contributing factors have been proposed including weather patterns and changing farming practices.  So, what do we do now?  The obvious first step is to avoid suspicious feedstuffs.  Obvious molds in feed ingredients should be avoided or, if contamination is minimal, fed to the least susceptible animals.  Testing can help identify the degree of mycotoxin challenge and should be used in combination with observable livestock performance.  Are feed intakes down?  Are there unexplainable challenges with health, reproduction and growth?  If we suspect mycotoxin challenges, there are several good products that can be added to the ration to help mitigate performance loss.  Finally, a balanced feeding program can help overcome some of the challenges presented by molds and mycotoxins by helping livestock to optimize their natural immune defenses. 

There is a growing disconnect between those of us who produce food and the consuming public. A survey published online by the American Society of Animal Science Taking Stock, highlights the difference of opinions between the general public and scientists. The survey was conducted by The Pew Research Center in cooperation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Here is a brief summary:

There were several areas where the opinions of the general public and scientists differed greatly, with the largest gaps related to biological science. A majority of scentists (88%) felt that eating genetically modified foods was safe, compared to 57% of the respondents in the public who felt they were unsafe. There were differences between genders, with 47% of males feeling that GM foods are safe, compared to only 28% of females. Two-thirds (67%) of the adults felt that scientists do not have a clear understanding of health effects on GM foods.


For pesticide use, 28% of the adults said it was safe to eat foods grown with pesticides, compared to 68% of the scientists. 47% of the adults were in favor of using animals for research, compared to 89% of the scientists.

For the full article, click here.

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