Preventing mold from seed to feed

An ever expanding world population and a growing competition between agricultural products from all over the world make efficiency a top priority for the next decade. Although we have already succeeded in growing animals much faster and producing a lot more eggs per hen in the past 30 years, to face the demand forecasts we need to keep this pace for another 30 years.

Making sure grains are not contaminated by molds or mycotoxins is a major area in which we can improve efficiency. Mycotoxines have a very negative effect on the health of animals. Lower fertility, immune responses and technical results can be the outcome of too high an amount of mycotoxines in the feed.

 

Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition

To reach the next level in efficiency we will need to treat our animals like professional athletes. People performing at the highest level of sports do not do so on a diet consisting mainly of happy meals and candy bars, but on a specialised diet in which every bite has been calculated. Every ingredient has a function. All details of  management become critical to support our animals to maintain or even improve technical results. Feed quality is of the utmost importance.

Maintaining grain quality before storage

The quality of the grain is first of all determined during the field period. One essential part is the weather. On this we do not have any influence. But we can influence other things, such as:

  • how we treat the soil before sowing
  • what we do to prevent mold growth on the field
  • which seeds we use and the quality of the seed

All of these factors determine the quality of the grain during harvest. For example if the soil is only treated very superficially, mold and mycotoxins from a previous crop could infect the next crop grown on the same field. Mold spores and mycotoxins which have grown on the grain during the field period can be detrimental to the feeding value. One must keep in mind that we can maintain the quality of the grain but we cannot improve the quality during storage.

 

But when we harvest good quality grain it is up to us to maintain that high value during storage time. The first tool available to maintain grain quality is to clean it thoroughly. During cleaning you remove all small particles from the raw material. These small particles can cause serious storage problems because they are often contaminated with mold spores and/or mycotoxines. When the small particles get into the storage mold spoilage can occur more easily and mycotoxines can get into the feed.

 

Trials have been conducted to see what the influence of cleaning is on animal performance. In a trial conducted in Germany, the grain was cleaned during harvesting and again shortly before grinding and mixing. The particles which were taken out during cleaning showed an increased amount of CFU’s per gram of feed. The grain has been fed to two groups of piglets. The group which got the double cleaned grain had a 10% higher daily growth rate and its average feed conversion ratio improved by 2%. This trial clearly shows the effects of cleaning grain before feeding.