Missouri Dairy Business Update Commercial Agriculture
Volume 3, Number 9
September 2003

Aflatoxin causes milk rejection

As in past drought years, scattered reports of milk rejection due to aflatoxin have caused concern among Missouri dairymen. Dr. James Coomer offers the following guide:

Aflatoxin in corn

Aflatoxin is a toxic compound produced by the aspergillus species of mold. It is commonly found in feeds grown in the Southeastern United States however weather conditions sometimes favor the growth in corn raised in Missouri. It is commonly found in corn, whole cottonseed and peanuts. Mold growth is favored under warm and drought conditions, which stress the plant.

Aflatoxin is a toxic compound produced by the aspergillus species of mold. It is commonly found in feeds grown in the Southeastern United States however weather conditions sometimes favor the growth in corn raised in Missouri. It is commonly found in corn, whole cottonseed and peanuts. Mold growth is favored under warm and drought conditions, which stress the plant.

Due to the toxic nature of aflatoxin The FDA limits the level of aflatoxin in milk to 0.5 ppb (parts per billion). The FDA has established regulatory action levels for corn used in interstate shipment based upon its' intended use. The levels are as follows:

Less than 20 ppb; dairy, immature animals, humans
Less than 100 ppb; breeding beef cattle and swine, mature poultry
Less than 200ppb; finishing swine of greater than 100 lbs.
Less than 300 ppb. Finishing beef cattle

The most likely animal symptoms of livestock affected by aflatoxin would be poor growth and performance. Research data suggests levels significantly higher for the respective livestock are required to cause impaired immunity and lesions on the liver. At 20 ppb no observable effects on milk yield would be expected.

Producers either buying grain or that suspect grain produced on their farm contains aflatoxin are advised to take a representative sample and check it for aflatoxin. Samples should be taken from 10 different locations within a grain bin. Remember, one ppb is like one golf ball in the entire MU football stadium.

A simple screening test used by elevators is to test the grain for florescence a greenish-yellow fluorescence of cracked or ground grain can suggest the presence of the aspergillus mold and possible aflatoxin contamination.

The University of Missouri Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. can test a corn sample for aflatoxin. Cost is $15.00/ sample. Address is Vet. Med. Diagnostic. Lab. PO Box 6023, Columbia, Mo. 65211. Phone 573-882-6811 or fax 573-882-1411

If a producer or grain handler has a concern about a questionable feedstuff please call the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Plant Industries Division, Bureau of Feed and Seed. Phone 573-751-4310.


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