This year’s cool, wet growing season and rainy fall have delayed grain harvesting and increased the risk for mold development on grain. Mold development can lead to mycotoxins, which can be toxic to humans and animals.

Grain samples submitted to the Iowa State University’s veterinary diagnostic laboratory bear out a higher than normal incidence of affected corn across Iowa and in samples received from Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. Samples submitted from most regions of Iowa have tested positive for mycotoxins.

“The wet summer and harvest season have caused a greater incidence of fungi in grains typically used in livestock feeding,” reports Steve Ensley, toxicologist with the diagnostic lab. “We are receiving samples from throughout the region with elevated mycotoxin levels, particularly vomitoxin, zearalenone and some fumonsin.

“These levels can be tripled if grain is fermented at an ethanol processing plant, so it pays grain or feed producers to know what may be in the feed they are producing and feeders to know what they are getting so they can adjust rations appropriately.”

Clinical signs in animals as a result of mycotoxin-induced problems vary widely by species. For a breakdown by species, go to the diagnostic lab.

If you suspect mycotoxins are causing problems in your animals, contact your veterinarian.

Using a new rapid screening test, the Iowa State diagnostic lab can analyze feed or grains for mycotoxins and provide the producer with the content of the feed made from the crop.

Four mycotoxins typically can be present in the grain and detected in standard test panels: aflatoxin (more common in hot weather and dry conditions), fumonisins, deoxynivalenol (DON or vomitoxin) and zearalenone.

For more details on sample requirements and costs, go to the Iowa State veterinary diagnostic or contact the laboratory at (515) 294-1950.