When locating corn and soybean meal for your pigs in the upcoming months, you should be aware of possible contamination by mycotoxins.

According to University of Minnesota Extension Specialist Mark Whitney, mycotoxins are a very real threat to pork producers, especially after unusual weather events such as drought. He points out these specific mycotoxins as the ones to be most concerned about affecting pigs.

Aflatoxins– Produced under dry, hot growing conditions. Signs: anorexia, depression, reduced feed efficiency, milk production and appetite.

Zearalenone– Mimics the hormone estrogen, so it affects reproduction. Signs: swollen vulvas, shrunken testes, enlarged mammary glands and decreased fertility.

Deoxynivalenol (Vomitoxin)– Named because pigs that consume grain contaminated with it will vomit. Signs: feed refusal and vomiting.

T-2 Toxin– Produced during cool, wet weather. Signs: frequent defecation, vomiting, weight loss and feed refusal.

Fumonisin– Pigs are less susceptible to this than other animals. Signs: difficulty breathing, swelling and fluid in the lungs and blue ears.

Ochratoxin– Pigs are more susceptible to this than other animals. Signs: reduced growth and feed efficiency, liver and kidney damage.

Ergot– Reduces the size of blood vessels restricting blood flow. Signs: convulsions, staggers, decreased blood supply to extremities and tail loss.

For more information, contact Chris Hostetler at the National Pork Board at CHostetler@pork.org or at (515) 223-3447. Additional drought resources from the Pork Checkoff are available on www.pork.org.