What are safe feeding levels for mycotoxin contaminated corn?

Vomitoxin levels in the Michigan corn crop.

The 2016 corn crop in many locations around Central-Michigan has resulted in challenges for grain producers. Several different Mycotoxin types can be found in grains under variable growing conditions. Vomitoxin has been detected at elevated levels in most fields, with many well above allowable levels for grain buyers. Rejected loads are common, requiring grain producers identify other marketing options or store this corn. One positive alternative is feeding the corn to ruminant livestock.

Beef feedlot cattle have the highest tolerance for mycotoxin level in complete diets. Grain with high vomitoxin levels can be diluted with “clean corn” or other feedstuff. Breeding cattle and other livestock can also be fed corn with vomitoxin, but at lower levels. Corn should be accurately tested for all mycotoxin levels to accurately formulate safe diets for any class of livestock. MDARD suggests feeding recommendations for corn with vomitoxin. The U.S. Grains Council Publication “A guide to distiller’s dried grains with solubles.”

FDA maximum recommended levels for aflatoxin in complete feeds and feed ingredients for beef feedlot cattle is 300 ppb, 100 ppb for breeding beef and dairy cattle. These ingredients should not exceed 50% of the diet.

FDA maximum recommended levels for deoxynivalenol (DON) in complete feeds and feed ingredients for beef feedlot cattle older than 4 months of age is 10 ppm. These ingredients should not exceed 50 percent of the diet. All other animals should not be fed feedstuffs exceeding 5 ppm and 40 percent of the diet.

The first step with any feed source is to have it tested. Once we know the value or limitation with any feedstuff, we can then formulate rations to best utilize each feed resource. Michigan State University Extension Educators are available to assist with feeding decision making for farms.

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