Fusarium-Infected Grains Challenge Pork Producers

by 5m Editor
26 January 2011, at 8:21am

CANADA - A researcher with the University of Manitoba says variations in the levels of contamination and in the effects of those contaminants on performance are the biggest challenge faced by swine producers in dealing with fusarium-infected feed grains, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites produced by fungi that infect cereal grains and other feed ingredients.

"Mycotoxins and Toxicology in Swine" was discussed last week at part of the Banff Pork Seminar.

Dr Jim House, the head of the University of Manitoba's Department of Human Nutritional Sciences with a cross appointment in the Department of Animal Science, says there are several fungi that produce mycotoxins but fusarium graminearum, which produces deoxynivalenol or DON, is of particular interest.

Jim House-University of Manitoba

We've done studies looking at fusarium-infected barley that have relatively high levels of DON, in excess of two and four parts per million, and we do see in some instances reductions in performance.

But the challenging aspect of working with fusarium-damaged grains and looking at the impact of mycotoxins is that there is a high degree of variability.

You don't always see negative impacts on performance and if you do it's not always to the same extent as you would expect given the level of DON or the active mycotoxin that you would find in that particular feed grain.

But we have regulations in Canada to limit the amount of DON in complete swine rations.

As a matter of legislation, complete swine rations should contain no more than one part per million or one milligram per kilogram of DON in the final ration and so, because it's legislated, there's a lot of interest paid on DON in order to make sure that it is kept out of swine feeds.

Given that, we still have shown evidence that we can feed a little higher levels and not see negative effects on performance.

Dr House says when dealing with mycotoxins, producers can avoid infected grains, they can blend infected grains with clean grains to reduce the level of mycotoxins in the final ration and there are various chemical and mechanical methods available that can be used to remove the toxins from the grain.